Pac-12 Tournament: UCLA Basketball’s 5 Keys to Victory Over USC

February 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins center Thomas Welsh (40) reacts after guard Bryce Alford (20) scores a three point basket against the Southern California Trojans during the second half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
February 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins center Thomas Welsh (40) reacts after guard Bryce Alford (20) scores a three point basket against the Southern California Trojans during the second half at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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The UCLA Basketball team starts their Pac-12 Tournament trek tonight against the USC Trojans. Here are the 5 keys to solidifying their victory and advance to the semifinals.

1. Play UCLA BasketBall!

There is no doubt that Lonzo Ball has been a huge part of the Bruins’ success, so to keep that success going, Ball needs to come out and play some of the best basketball of his life in the next month, especially tonight against USC.

Ball needs to put this team on his shoulders and force the UCLA style of basketball down their opponent’s throats. What better time to start than with the Trojans.

2. Slay the Dangerous Beast That is USC

More from Go Joe Bruin

USC may be 24-8, but they have not been overly impressive, especially since those eight loses all came in conference play. At one point, the Trojans went through a four-game skid. Still, this team is dangerous.

USC is in many critic’s opinions, “on the bubble” for the Big Dance, so the Trojans are going to be looking for blood. They beat UCLA once before and will use that as motivation to try and defeat UCLA again.

But UCLA also has motivation pf their own… getting beat 95-71 in last year’s Pac-12 Tournament seems motivation enough for UCLA.

Basically, the Bruins need to realize they are dealing with a team that can beat them and not get complacent. They ned to give USC everything they have. If the Bruins lose tonight, that is not a good look for the program, especially to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

3. BOX OUT! ZONE OUT!

The defense has improved tremendously since UCLA’s last loss… to USC. The Bruins need to keep the pressure with their 3/4 court presses and their 3-2 zone. Play tighter, get in the passing lanes and limit chances in the paint. On top of that, they need to stick their rumps out and box out. Why?

Feb 9, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins forward TJ Leaf (22) celebrates during the second half against the Oregon Ducks at Pauley Pavilion. The UCLA Bruins won 82-79. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 9, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins forward TJ Leaf (22) celebrates during the second half against the Oregon Ducks at Pauley Pavilion. The UCLA Bruins won 82-79. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

4. Limit the Trojan Bigs

Because the USC big men are very athletic. There is a reason Chimezie Metu won the Most Improved Player honor by the Pac-12. Paired with Bennie Boatwright, the Trojans have a formidable front court that can muscle the Bruins around. UCLA has to limit that and counter with Ike Anigbogu.

5. Unleash the Bryce

The REAL Most Improved Player, Bryce Alford, needs to continue to do the outside work and reign threes upon the USC defense. If Bryce gets hot, then the team is usually hot. On top of that, as a leader, he knows how to get his team fired up.

Next: Pac-12 Tournament: UCLA vs. USC Preview

UCLA plays USC tonight at 8:30 p.m. PT on ESPN in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 Tournament.