For the first half of the second Crosstown Rivalry basketball game between UCLA and USC, everything that I feared might happen as far as the Trojans being at home, wanting revenge after losing big to the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion, and giving Steve Alford’s squad problems came to fruition.
I’m sure that the 9,216 fans at Galen Center were ecstatic as UCLA certainly helped ‘SC in their upset bid, shooting 33% while the Trojans shot 59%, and I’m also sure that the students, who wore black as did the team as part of a “black-out”, were eagerly making plans to rush the court at game’s end as the USC band played “Conquest”, their traditional victory song, over and over again.
Unfortunately for the now 10-13 and 1-9 in the Pac-12 Trojans, there are two halves in a basketball game.
It’s unknown what Alford exactly said to his Bruins at halftime, but what he said clearly worked as UCLA went all Mike Tyson (in his prime) on USC, led by Norman Powell‘s team-high 21 points as the Bruins used a 27-6 run to annihilate Andy Enfield’s team.
They wiped out a six-point deficit in the process, ending up with a 83-73 win and completing the sweep over the crosstown rivals; the 83 points were the highest total that a UCLA team has ever scored at Galen Center.
And the first time in four years that either school swept the other in the three revenue sports games; the football clash plus the two men’s contests in which the Trojans took the trifecta in 2009-10.
Powell was definitely the man and the game’s MVP as he scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, making two three-pointers as well as making a ESPN highlight worthy tomahawk dunk during the Bruin run.
“Norman has been good all year,” Alford commented after the game. “He drives the ball hard, he’s a good defender, he makes his shots.”
Trojan guard Byron Wesley led everyone with 27 points, but outside of him UCLA shut ‘SC down in the game’s last 20 minutes, holding them to just 11 points for the first 12 minutes of that period while going on that big run.
That essentially decided things and quieted what I am sure was a hostile crowd and student section that was itching to explode and make things unbearable for the Bruins, who improved to 18-5 overall and remained in second place in the conference with a 7-3 record.
Three other UCLA players scored in double digits on Saturday: Jordan Adams had 17 points and eight rebounds, Kyle Anderson used a six-for-seven night at the free throw line to score 15 points and grab ten boards, and Travis Wear added 11 points.
The Trojans remain mired in the conference’s cellar, but I’d be surprised if they didn’t win a few more games before the end of the regular season as they are playing better and there are winnable games ahead.
Putting it another way, it would be shocking if USC ended their Pac-12 campaign with only one win.
As for the Bruins, like their Trojan counterparts they will be facing teams that they can and should be able to beat, provided that they stop these sub-par slumps that they’ve been in that cost them against Utah – who they will play again at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, February 15 – and Oregon State.
Here’s a highlight/analysis of the game from UCLABruins.com: