CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Southern California had lost seven games in a row at Gill Coliseum, and that streak provided fuel for Trojans players Wednesday night.
“It was one of the main things we talked about coming into this trip,” forward Chimezie Metu said.
Metu had 19 points and eight rebounds, and No. 22 USC stayed undefeated with a 70-63 victory over Oregon State in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
Jordan McLaughlin added 10 points, eight rebounds and four steals, and Jonah Mathews had 10 points for the Trojans (14-0, 1-0).
USC coach Andy Enfield said it was great to start the Pac-12 schedule with a win.
“It was a very physical game, a lot of free throws, a lot of fouls. We had to play more of a slower game than we’d like to, but we grinded it out,” he added.
Stephen Thompson Jr. scored a career-high 24 points, and Drew Eubanks had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Beavers (4-10, 0-1).
Southern Cal went on a 13-0 run about midway through the first half to take a 24-9 lead. Oregon State was held scoreless for nearly five minutes during the surge.
The Trojans led 34-17 at halftime.
Southern California led by double digits most of the second half, but Oregon State was able to cut the deficit to six in the final minute on a layup by Eubanks.
The Trojans shot 27 for 33 (82 percent) from the free throw line compared to 13 for 24 (54 percent) for the Beavers.
“We came out flat and waited until we got down to show some fight and intensity,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said.
With about 7:30 left, Eubanks and Southern California’s Charles Buggs got tangled up on a rebound. Buggs fell to the court, Eubanks stepped on him and Buggs reacted angrily. During an ensuing scrum, Oregon State’s Tanner Sanders left the bench and was ejected. Eubanks was given a technical foul.
After the game, Eubanks said he unintentionally stepped on Buggs. Enfield said he thought it was intentional, given the technical call.
Southern California: Co-captain Bennie Boatwright missed his seventh straight game due to a knee sprain, but is expected back in mid-January. … Southern California’s 14-0 start is its best since the 1971-72 squad began the season 16-0.
Oregon State: Leading scorer Tres Tinkle missed his eighth consecutive game with a fracture in his non-shooting hand. He could return next week. … Eubanks has 39 blocks, matching his total from last season.
The win over Oregon State likely will be seen as business as usual, but the Trojans’ next game against No. 21 Oregon could provide extra validation for their strong start.
Enfield said Friday’s game against the Ducks will be a challenge. “We’re 14-0 and they’ve won 34 straight at home, so something has to give,” he added.
McLaughlin can score in bunches, but he took only two shots from the field. That was fine with Enfield, who pointed to a packed stat line for the point guard. “He was playing the game like he should. He controlled the game, he made the right decisions, he made the right plays,” Enfield said.
FREE THROW WOES
Thompson shot 69 percent on free throws last season, but this season has been a real struggle. He went 3 for 10 at the line Wednesday to leave him at 53 percent overall.
Southern California plays at No. 21 Oregon on Friday. The Ducks are 12-2 after defeating No. 2 UCLA on a last-second 3-pointer Wednesday night.
Oregon State hosts No. 2 UCLA on Friday. The Bruins are 13-1 and will have plenty of motivation coming off their first loss of the season.