LOS ANGELES (AP) - With Shaqquan Aaron and Bennie Boatwright settling in, and shots starting to fall, the Southern California Trojans feel like they’re more dangerous than ever.
Aaron scored 21 points and Boatwright added 16 as Southern California cruised to a 92-66 victory over Oregon State on Thursday night.
“It’s great having him back,” Aaron said of Boatwright, who missed 15 games with a sprained knee ligament. “He’s a great player. Bennie’s a great weapon. He can score inside, outside, and it helps everbody around him.”
Aaron, who sat out last season after transferring from Louisville, made 7 of 10 shots, including 5 of 6 3-pointers.
“I guess you could say that I’m getting used to the flow of the game because, at the beginning of the season, I hadn’t played college basketball for a while,” he said. “I’m just letting the game come to me.”
Elijah Stewart chipped in 14 points and Chimezie Metu had 11 points and seven rebounds for Southern California (8-4, 21-4 Pac 12), which led by 10 or more over the final 30 minutes en route to its fifth straight conference victory.
“We had a lot of energy, got our hands on the basketball,” said Trojan coach Andy Enfield. “We did a great job challenging the 3-point shots, making them shoot over us.”
The Trojans shot 51 percent from the field, sank 10 of 22 3-pointers, and made 26 of 31 free throws, while holding the Beavers to 39 percent shooting at the other end in Boatwright’s third game back.
“Bennie is so skilled that he’s been able to come in offensively,” said Enfield. “When you have a guy who’s unselfish and can make the right play you can get him in there quickly.”
Said Boatwright: “”Each and every game it’s going to get better. My legs felt better tonight, and they keep improving.”
The Trojans have won five of their last six Pac-12 games after losing three of their first five.
“We missed our fair share, and everybody’s fair share the first seven games,” said Enfield. “And now we’re starting to play well.”
JaQuori McLaughlin had 12 points and Stephen Thompson Jr scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds and added six assists for Oregon State (4-21, 0-12 Pac-12), which lost its 12th straight, and fell for the 18th time in 19 games.
“We have a tendency because we’re young and inexperienced to stop defending,” said Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle. “They were beating us to the middle. They were getting open threes. They’re very deep and talented team, and we’re not there yet.”
Kendal Manuel and Drew Eubanks each scored 11 points and Ben Kone had 10 points for the Beavers.
The Beavers have lost their 12 Pac-12 games this season by an average of 16.6 points.
The Trojans closed the first half by outscoring the Beavers 16-5 over the final 9:16, taking a 44-27 lead on Metu’s free throws.
From there, the Beavers never got closer than 59-48 with 11:21 remaining.
Oregon State: The Beavers have lost their six Pac-12 road games this season by an average of 20.3 points. … OSU returns to the site of its last Pac-12 victory, Pauley Pavilion, where they ended their 2016 conference schedule with an 86-82 upset of the UCLA Bruins. … The Beavers have not won this season since Dec. 21, when they defeated Kent State 69-50 at Gil Coliseum in their last non-conference game.
Southern California: Currently, only California has a longer Pac-12 winning streak (six) than USC. … The Trojans’ 21-4 mark is their best through 25 games since their 1992 squad went 21-4. .. The Trojans won for the 22nd time in their last 26 home games against Oregon State.
Oregon State: Sophomore guard Tres Tinkle missed his 19th straight game, and remains out indefinitely (broken right wrist). Senior center Cheikh N’diaye sat out his 16th consecutive game, and remains out indefinitely (left shoulder).
Southern California: Boatwright played his third game after missing 15 (sprained MCL left knee).
Oregon State: plays at UCLA on Sunday.
Southern California: Plays fifth-ranked Oregon at home on Saturday night.
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