UCLA Basketball: Bruins outlast USC in the Battle for L.A.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Thomas Welsh /

The UCLA basketball team got a boost from veterans Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh who helped propel the Bruins to an 82-79 victory over crosstown rival USC.

Everyone knew that the next stretch of games was going to be difficult for the UCLA basketball team and so far they are weathering the storm that gets tougher in the next week. But first things first, let’s chat about UCLA’s win over USC.

There were a lot of things on the line in this game aside from bragging rights. With this win, UCLA now extends their win streak to three. They also shot down USC’s six-game win streak, which had lifted them to second place in the conference.

More from Go Joe Bruin

Though the standings stay relatively the same, UCLA’s 4th place position in the conference is now two games behind conference leading Arizona rather than three. It also helped that Washington took out the Wildcats tonight, giving Arizona their second conference loss which disallows them from furthering their lead in the Pac-12.

Yes, there was a lot going on tonight, but back to the Bruins.

This was a battle from the beginning, one that would momentarily give the winner title of “Best basketball team in Los Angeles”. Both teams came out swinging from the beginning as this game was kept relatively close throughout. Both teams could only get a leg up on the other for small segments of time as each rode nonsynchronous runs throughout the game.

UCLA continued to have lapses in their defense which easily allowed the Trojans ample time to pull ahead at several instances throughout the game. Twice (once in the first half and and once in the second) USC was able to pull out to a nine point lead, which was a concern because the Trojans have been very good at maintaining leads and limiting opponent’s offensive opportunities.

Unfortunately for them, UCLA did not quit. Both times, the Bruins not only fought back from their deficit but managed to take the lead.

There were 12 ties in this contest and 18 lead changes. Neither of these teams quit, making for a very entertaining, yet nail-biting experience for both fan bases.

In the end, the Bruins managed to stay out in front when Thomas Welsh nailed two free throws to put the Bruins permanently up 82-79. This was only moments after Welsh hit a three-pointer that put the Bruins up 80-77 with less than a minute left. Welsh, on his 22nd birthday, finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds.

Aaron Holiday also gave the Bruins a boost as he put in a game-high 23 points and an incredible 9 assists.

Next: The UCLA Basketball All-Time Team

So part one of the three-game stretch from hell is complete with a win, but it gets tougher as UCLA heads to Arizona on Thursday and Arizona State on Saturday. If UCLA wants to stay relevant in the Pac-12, as well as with the NCAA Tournament voters, they need to get one, if not both of these very difficult road games.