UCLA Basketball: Bruins come alive in the second half against USC

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Alex Olesinski
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 03: Alex Olesinski /

The UCLA basketball team salvaged their season and gets to keep their first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament after the Bruins turn things up a notch in the second half against the USC Trojans.

Despite the up and down season, the UCLA basketball team brought out the brooms as they swept crosstown rival USC at the Galen Center for their second win over the Trojans this season. UCLA now finishes the regular season 20-10, 11-7 and in 4th place.

A first round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament. That all important 20th win. A sweep over USC. Albeit inconsistent, the Bruins have had some peak moments and to finish the season with all of this as a reward, almost makes the turbulence excusable. Almost.

UCLA has some of the best talent in the conference and should arguably be higher than 4th in the standings, but for now, let us appreciate the fact that the Bruins once again have bragging rights over USC.

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It was also a noteworthy game on an individual basis as two Bruins had some milestone games. Kris Wilkes scored a career-high 22 points as he went 9/16 from the field. It is also going to be a memorable night for him due to the fact that he required stitches after accidently getting run into by Prince Ali’s skull. Everyone was fine.

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Gyorgy Goldman continues to improve and showed a lot of defensive aggression which led to several UCLA scoring chances. He finished with four blocks and nine rebounds. If he can continue to play like this through the post-seaosn, the Bruins will have a reliable fourth option after Wilkes, Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday.

Speaking of Holiday, the fireball had ignited late in the game and led to another career-high in the game as the junior point guard logged a jaw-dropping 34 points. Holiday shot 11/16 and 6/9 from behind the three-point line. After USC’s final lead of the game, UCLA went on a 23-11 run to finish, 11 of those points came form Holiday.

Jaylen Hands did not play due to a sprained ankle and was sitting on the sideline with a boot on his right ankle.

It is unknown how long he would be out but if he cannot go by the time the Bruins play their first Pac-12 Tournament game on Thursday against the winner of 5 Stanford and 12 California, then the Bruins will have a big issue with depth, especially at the point guard spot. Holiday is capable of putting the Bruins on his back and leading a charge, but he cannot do it alone.

That is a bridge they will cross when they get there, but for now, it was a good game to end the season on. Now they have to get ready for the madness.

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Speaking of madness, how maddening is it to know that UCLA beat both of their rivals, going 3-0 on the season, and yet both finished first and second in the Pac-12 while the Bruins struggled to get a 4-seed in the conference tournament? Its maddening, indeed.