Preview: USC at Oregon State

It's an early start tonight for the Trojans, as they meet Oregon State at 5:30 p.m. in Corvallis for a key Pacific 10 Conference battle that could push USC into a tie for first with a win.

USC (12-7, 4-3) soundly beat Washington on Saturday, 87-61, in what was probably the team's best performance of the conference schedule. Marcus Johnson scored 22 points, Dwight Lewis scored 19, and three other Trojans were in double figures.

Oregon State (8-11, 2-5) hasn't won since a Jan. 14 home victory over Arizona. Since then, the Beavers lost once at home and twice on the road in a disastrous trip to the Bay Area.

OSU's Calvin Haynes leads his team in scoring with 12.3 points. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Haynes is shooting 44 percent from three-point range. He lit up Cal for 25 points in a losing effort Saturday.

The Beavers also feature the Tarver brothersSeth and Josh— who average a combined 15 points. But OSU is a guard-heavy team, as six of their 10 typical rotation players are guards. And 6-foot-11, 240-pound forward/center Roland Schaftenaar is primarily an outside threat to boot.

Despite USC coach Kevin O'Neill's claims that the Trojans play better and more efficiently when teams pressure them, Oregon State coach Craig Robinson told Oregon reporters this week that he still plans to utilize some press defense.

That will be something to watch for tonight. No television in the L.A. area, but we'll have halftime and postgame reports on the blog.

Notes: In 2009, heavily-favored USC visited the Beavers in early January. Oregon State ended its nearly two-year-long, 23-game Pac-10 losing streak with its 62-58 overtime upset victory over the Trojans. ... OSU's Haynes played alongside former UCLA Bruin (and present Laker) Jordan Farmar at Taft High in Woodland Hills before attending prep school in Connecticut.