Oregon-Southern Cal Preview
Oregon has secured the No. 1 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and at least a share of the conference title for the first time in 14 years.
However, that doesn't make Saturday's regular-season finale at Southern California meaningless.
The ninth-ranked Ducks have their sights set on the outright championship when they face a Trojans team that has dropped 11 straight in the series.
Oregon (24-6, 13-4) will finish at least tied for first place in the conference for the first time since 2002 after winning 76-68 at UCLA on Wednesday.
The Ducks hold a one-game lead over No. 13 Utah, which hosts Colorado on Saturday night in its finale. An Oregon win or loss by the Utes gives the Ducks the outright title, and they will be the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament regardless of Saturday's results because they swept Utah this season.
Freshman guard Tyler Dorsey had 20 points and a season-high nine rebounds to lead four Oregon players in double-figure scoring against the Bruins.
''Now we need to go beat USC to be the only one at No. 1,'' Dorsey said. ''We're not going to celebrate until we finish off USC.''
Oregon has won four straight and 10 of 12, a stretch that began with an 89-81 victory over then-No. 21 USC (20-10, 9-8) on Jan. 21. Senior forward Elgin Cook tied a career high with 26 points, while freshman forward Bennie Boatwright scored a season-best 23 for the Trojans.
USC entered that matchup 3-1 in conference play and went on to win seven of its first 10 in Pac-12 action before seeing its hopes of a league title dashed.
The Trojans lost five of their next six before beating Oregon State 81-70 on Wednesday, ending a three-game losing streak and giving them 20 victories for the first time since 2008-09. Their previous two defeats were by a combined 42 points.
''It felt like we got back to being the team that won 19 games,'' said leading scorer Jordan McLaughlin, who had 17 points and nine assists. ''This week on film we watched some of our good games. We got into the film room and we got our confidence back.''
The Trojans have been a confident bunch at the Galen Center, but they've dropped five in a row at home to the Ducks.
''We're 16-1 on our home floor, so whatever magic they have needs to happen on Saturday because Oregon is one of the top teams in the country,'' coach Andy Enfield said.
The Ducks need one more win to set a school record with 103 over a four-season span, while USC is on track to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years.
''We're just excited to have won 20 games,'' Enfield said. ''Forget about any tournaments. We still have a lot to play for. We've got a big game Saturday, and then the Pac-12 tournament. Whatever happens after that, we'll be thankful for it.''
USC had lost 12 of 13 meetings with Top 25 teams before splitting four this season.