UCLA BRUINS (17-5, 6-3 in the Pac-12) vs. USC TROJANS (10-12, 1-8 in the Pac-12)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 8, at 7:30 p.m.
PLACE: Galen Center, USC Campus
TV: Pac-12 Networks
WHERE THEY ARE IN THE STANDINGS:
UCLA is tied for second place in the Pac-12 Conference
USC is in last place in the Pac-12 Conference
UCLA – Jordan Adams, 16.8 points per game
USC – Byron Wesley, 16.9 points per game
UCLA – Kyle Anderson, 8.7 rebounds per game
USC – Byron Wesley, 6.8 rebounds per game
LAST MEETING: UCLA won, 107-73
ALL-TIME SERIES: UCLA leads, 134-105
Forget about these Trojans being in the Pac-12 cellar with only one conference win to their name.
Forget about their 10-12 record.
Forget about their current three-game losing streak.
That one Pac-12 win that Andy Enfield’s team has had to date – a 77-69 win on January 22 over a California team that recently knocked off previously undefeated and top-ranked Arizona – and the fact that two of those three straight losses have been overtime affairs, should tell Bruin Nation something:
That this USC team is playing better.
They are at home in the Galen Center, which promises to see the largest crowd that it has had this year as the UCLA game always draws the most fans.
And they desperately want revenge for that 34-point pasting that they suffered in Pauley Pavilion on January 5.
Combined with the disappointing loss to Oregon State that Steve Alford’s Bruins were forced to endure, in which they didn’t play well until the very end, when it was too late, and…well…
I won’t sugarcoat this:
This is a rivalry match-up that Bruin Nation needs to worry about.
Especially when one considers that UCLA didn’t look too hot this past weekend in the state of Oregon, barely getting by the Ducks in Eugene before being completely outplayed by a Beaver team that they should have easily dismantled.
And it’s not only the ‘SC players, what with J.T Terell and Pe’Shon Howard having scoring averages in the double digits (10.4 and 10.3, respectively) and Omar Oraby averaging 6.5 boards a contest, that Anderson and company need to be concerned about.
The large crowd that is expected, as Galen Center seats just over 10,000, will be extremely loud and is guaranteed to provide a most hostile environment for their crosstown rivals, particularly in light of the pasting that their beloved Trojans endured in the Bruins’ hands the last time these two teams met.
Granted, with their 17-5 record UCLA isn’t exactly a sad bunch of saps; three other Bruins besides Adams – Anderson at 15.1, Zach LaVine at 11.2, and Norman Powell at 11.0 – are scoring more than ten points per contest.
And two Bruins besides Anderson – Adams at 5.5 and Tony Parker at 5.0, are averaging at least five rebounds, but…
In the grand tradition of that Janet Jackson classic “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”, one can say that USC is playing as well as UCLA if not better.
In other words, things are definitely different that they were a month ago.
And the Bruins must not only be aware of that as they go into the potential horrors of Galen Center, they need to play a heck of a lot better than they did in Oregon if they want to prevent the Trojans students and fans from storming the court and the ‘SC band from playing their victory song, “Conquest”, at the end of the game.
Because that could well happen of they don’t perform better on defense and on the boards.
Which would be devastating for UCLA and a sign of definite trouble in Westwood.
Can these Bruins keep that USC crowd quiet and deliver a sweep on Saturday night?
We’ll see – by roughly 10:00 p.m. much more will be known about both teams going forward.