I wonder if some of the members of UCLA’s football team went to their basketball counterparts before their big hoops showdown with USC at the Galen Center this past Sunday and asked them to avenge that 50-0 gridiron humiliation at the Coliseum a few months before.
Whatever was done to motivate the Ben Howland’s team, it obviously worked – big time – as UCLA thoroughly outplayed the Trojans in beating them 66-47 before a crowd of 8,474, many of them leaving halfway through the second half because the game was no longer in doubt.
It was the Bruins’ biggest win ever at the Galen Center and their biggest road win against their crosstown rival since 1999, not to mention their third straight win and 10th of the season, keeping them in contention in the Pac-12 Conference with a 3-2 record while ‘SC fell to 0-5 in the conference and a whopping 5-13 overall.
The Trojans made a game out of it at the beginning, scoring six of the the game’s first eight points and earning a 10-10 tie with them midway through the first half.
Then, as forward Travis Wear put it, “We really stepped on the gas,” as UCLA went on a 22-4 run in the last 4:30 before halftime, which was essentially the knockout punch as they took a 37-19 halftime lead and never looked back after that.
Three Bruins scored in double figures, led by the Wear twins who had perhaps their best games as Bruins; Travis Wear led everyone with 19 points and eight rebounds while his brother David added 13 points and seven boards. Lazeric Jones, who has been playing shooting guard at times to get him more scoring opportunities, earned 15 points and led both teams with five assists.
Here’s a highlight clip of the Bruins’ win courtesy of YouTube:
UCLA’s free throw shooting improved immensely in front of the hostile Trojan crowd as they made 11 out of 12 shots from the charity stripe, Travis Wear going a perfect five-for-five. They shot at 51% for the game while turning in a very good performance on defense, Howland going with a three guard set for quickness and holding USC to 36% shooting.
It was no contest on the boards, either, as the Bruins outrebounded the Trojans by a whopping 44-19, the biggest edge in that category in the past nine years; the Wears had as many offensive boards – eight- as the entire Trojan team combined.
I think it was safe to say that the partisan ‘SC crowd grew awfully quiet by the time the second half started, being that their team was getting whipped by their crosstown rival and all.
“Our guys are excited about how they’re playing,” said Howland, who notched his 199th win - and his11th versus USC – as UCLA coach. “I can’t emphasize it enough: they really worked hard for this game.”
“We’re starting to really click as a team,” added Travis Wear.
Maurice Jones was the lone Trojan who scored in double digits, getting 13 points on 4-of 13 shooting while DeWayne Dedmon, their 7’0″ center, was terrible as he made only one basket in six tries and was a pathetic two-for-eight from the free throw line.
The Bruins are clearly playing good, solid basketball right now; they have improved immensely since their 2-5 start, which is becoming a distant memory as they head up to Oregon this coming weekend for what will be a tough test against Oregon and Oregon State.
If they could sweep the Ducks and Beavers, which won’t be an easy task, then one can say that this team is a serious contender for the Pac-12 title.
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