January 23, 2016

Southern Cal's return to the Top 25 might be brief, but its primary concern is preventing another defeat in Oregon.

That may not be easy Sunday when the No. 21 Trojans try to snap a six-game skid at Oregon State.

Ranked for the first time since November 2008, USC (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) trailed by as many as 15 in the second half as its three-game winning streak ended with Thursday's 89-81 loss at Oregon. Shooting a league-best 41.1 percent from 3-point range coming in, the Trojans went 8 of 28 to equal their second-worst percentage (28.6) from beyond the arc this season. They were also outscored 43-30 in the paint.

"That's basketball," coach Andy Enfield said. "Our guys played hard. We're not going to play perfect all season."

The Trojans are 2-2 on the road in the conference after losing for the sixth consecutive time to the Ducks in Eugene.

"We're going to lose games on the road in this league, and we have a very tough challenge on Sunday ... so we'll prepare for that and go compete," Enfield said.

The Trojans' last win over the Beaver State's two conference schools came against the Ducks on Jan. 2, 2009. Their most recent victory in Corvallis was a year earlier. USC has averaged 61.3 points and shot 28.6 percent from 3-point range in its last six at Oregon State and hit just 34 percent overall in last season's 59-55 loss there.

The Beavers (11-6, 2-4) are 7-3 at home but have dropped two of three there and enter this one mired in a season-high three-game slide. They've shot 37.5 percent during the skid and allowed UCLA to hit 51.8 percent in Wednesday's 82-73 home defeat.

"For whatever reason we did not have the same pop, the mental sharpness we've had at home," coach Wayne Tinkle told the school's official website. "We did not have the defensive urgency we've had.

"We have to correct that. We have to go back to work, roll up our sleeves and challenge the guys so we can get better. We will keep building this thing."

The Beavers have little time to sulk with USC coming in eager to get back on track.

"We have to get back to the drawing board," assistant coach Stephen Thompson said. "We can't sit on this one because USC is just as a good a team as UCLA, if not better."

The Beavers get their first look at 6-foot-10 USC freshman Bennie Boatwright (12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds per game), who recorded his first double-double with season highs of 23 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out at Oregon.

Oregon State's Gary Payton II is third in the conference with an average 17.2 points and among the national leaders at 2.4 steals per contest. Payton's averaged 19.7 points and 7.0 assists in the last three at home. He recorded 21 points and 10 boards in last season's home win over the Trojans.

The Beavers' lone victory in their last 14 meetings with a Top 25 opponent came at home against then-No. 7 Arizona on Jan. 11 of last year.

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