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USC edges Oregon, continues stellar play against ranked foes

Feb 4, 2007 - 4:39 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Freshman Taj Gibson helped Southern California remain the team that ranked opponents can't avoid playing.

Gibson scored 18 points as USC continued its impressive record against top-25 teams with a 71-68 victory over ninth-ranked Oregon in Pac-10 Conference action.

Nick Young had 13 points and Gabe Pruitt 12 for the Trojans (18-6, 8-3 Pac-10), which improved to 5-2 against ranked foes, sweeping the season series with the Ducks in the process.

"That was a great win for us," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "We're showing great poise when we need poise and we're showing attack when we need to attack. Our guys don't have a selfish bone in their bodies. They just want to win."

With freshman Daniel Hackett scoring the final five points of a 12-4 run, USC grabbed a 68-62 lead with 2:51 remaining.

"To their credit, they hung in there and made the plays down the stretch," Ducks coach Ernie Kent said. Oregon (19-4, 7-4), which was looking to avoid a third loss in its last four games, answered back with four straight points to close within 68-66 on a layup by Bryce Taylor with 1:50 left.

After Young and the Ducks' Aaron Brooks both made a pair of free throws, Gibson split two from the line with 16 seconds to go for a 71-68 edge.

That cushion held up as Oregon twice missed 3-pointers in the closing seconds, including one from Brooks at the top of the key that bounced off the front of the rim as time expired.

"I think we kind of had them on their heels. They are a running team and I think for the most part we kept them under (control)," Pruitt said. "We didn't allow them to run as much as they normally do and we did our assignments on our guys and it came out in the end we were up by three and we made a stop at the end and won the game."

Gibson finished 7-of-9 from the field and blocked four shots.

Lodrick Stewart scored 11 points and Hackett added nine and six rebounds for the Trojans, who overcame a 41-20 disadvantage in rebounding by shooting 60 percent (24-of-40).

"It's always scary when you shoot 60 percent and you win by three," Floyd said. "It means you're not doing something well."

Brooks finished with 16 points and Tajuan Porter 15 for the Ducks, who finished 33 percent (22-of-66) from the field.

Oregon's leading scorer at 18.8 points per game, Brooks contributed to the team's poor shooting, going 5-of-14 from the floor. Some of those misses had to do with Pruitt, who matched up Brooks well.

Pruitt also limited the 6-0 point guard's playmaking, as Brooks finished with just two assists vs. three turnovers.

"Gabe had a great individual effort on Brooks," Floyd said. "He did a better job of staying between him and the basket."

Malik Hairston scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Ducks, who have dropped their last three road games after starting 5-0.

"We need to get our butts moving, get our energy and spirit back," Kent said.

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    OREGON (9) 28 40 68
    USC 39 32 71 FINAL

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