CORVALLIS — A little controversy wasn't going keep Southern California from beating the worst team in the Pacific-10 Conference.

CORVALLIS — A little controversy wasn't going keep Southern California from beating the worst team in the Pacific-10 Conference.

O.J. Mayo, the star freshman who played despite reports that he may have violated NCAA rules by accepting tickets to an NBA game, had 19 points to help USC spoil interim coach Kevin Mouton's debut with a 68-44 win over Oregon State on Thursday.

Davon Jefferson added 18 points and Taj Gibson added 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Trojans (12-6, 3-3 Pacific-10), who broke open a close game in the second half with active, physical defense.

"It was our defense," Gibson said. "We got back in time, we talked a lot."

Lathan Wallace led Oregon State (6-13, 0-7) with 11 points, and was the only Beaver in double figures as the team lost its ninth straight.

After the game, Mayo declined to discuss his accepting of free tickets to a Denver Nuggets-Los Angeles Lakers game from Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony. The freshman told reporters earlier this week they had a face value of $230 each.

USC coach Tim Floyd said Mayo's situation wasn't a big deal.

"(I'm sure that) guys at Washington have never been given a ticket to a game by a friend, that guys in the Bay Area have never been given a ticket to go to a game by a friend. UCLA players have never been given a ticket by Jordan Farmar, who's a friend, to go to a game, that guys at Arizona State have never watched a Suns game at home," he said.

Floyd said Mayo didn't have to speak to the school's NCAA compliance officer before making the decision to play. Floyd refused to elaborate: "I'll tell you what I want you to hear."

Fresh off the firing of coach Jay John, Oregon State set season lows in points, second-half points (19) and shooting percentage (27.7 percent).

Mouton took over the job Sunday night and immediately dismissed center C.J. Giles from the team. He made another statement Thursday, choosing not to start Marcel Jones — the team's second-leading scorer and only senior. Jones came off the bench to score five points on 1-of-11 shooting.

"I didn't see this coming," Mouton said. "But we can't sit here now and do the old 'woe is me'."

USC jumped to an 18-4 lead, but the Beavers went on a 15-2 run in the last 5:02 of the half and trailed 27-25 at the break.

"I kind of wished there hadn't have been a halftime," said Oregon State center Calvin Hampton, who replaced Giles in the starting lineup. "I think if we could have kept going we would have beaten them. We were riding so high emotionally."

Instead, the Trojans opened the final 20 minutes on an 11-0 run.

Mayo, who entered the game as the Pac-10's second-leading scorer at 19.7 points per game, knocked down his third 3-pointer during the run and then dished off to Jefferson for a fastbreak layup.

Jefferson, coming off a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds in USC's upset win over UCLA, displayed hustle and acrobatics on both ends of the floor. He was 9-of-12 from the field with seven rebounds and three steals.

His alley-oop slam at 14:41 put USC up by 15 and the Trojans coasted to their sixth straight win over the Beavers.

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerome Kersey, who has expressed interest in the Oregon State coaching job, attended the game. Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis wouldn't comment on the coaching search.