- Peter Yoon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- The USC Trojans upset the UCLA Bruins, 75-71, in overtime Wednesday night at Pauley Pavilion. It was the first time this season the Bruins (16-6, 6-3 Pac-12) have lost consecutive games, and it was the third loss in four games for UCLA. USC (9-13, 4-5) ended a two-game losing streak.
How it happened: Byron Wesley made a driving layup to give USC a 72-71 lead with 1:36 to play in overtime, and Ari Stewart and Jio Fontan made three of four free throws in the final 11 seconds as the Trojans hung on. Shabazz Muhammad, who led all scorers with 22 points, missed two 3-point shots in the final 1:14.
UCLA trailed 57-44 with 10:39 left in regulation before staging a furious comeback. Larry Drew II made a scooping layup to cut the USC lead to 65-63 with 1:23 left, and Jordan Adams took a pass from Travis Wear and made a 10-foot baseline jumper to tie the score at 65 with 31 seconds remaining.
USC's Eric Wise was called for an offensive foul on the next Trojans possession, giving UCLA the ball with three seconds to go in regulation, but a 3-point shot by Drew missed and the game went to overtime.
UCLA had a 21-15 lead with 8:17 left in the first half, but USC started scorching the nets after that -- making 8-of-10 shots for the rest of the first half -- and took a 38-30 halftime lead. The Trojans stayed hot in the second half and extended their lead to 52-37 with 13:24 to play before UCLA started to make a few baskets.
Player of the game: Muhammad was the best player on the court for the final 16 minutes of regulation, scoring 16 of his 22 points during that stretch after starting the game 1-for-7 from the field. He finished 7-of-18 for the game. He also had six rebounds and two steals. For USC, Wise had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Fontan had 15 points and 6 assists. The two of them combined to score the final 15 USC points in regulation.
Stat of the game: UCLA made only 2-of-19 3-point attempts. Muhammad made both of them --the first with 12:50 to play in regulation, and the second with 3:57 left in regulation.
What it means: UCLA can no longer be considered a serious contender for the Pac-12 title and must now focus on what it needs to do to make the NCAA tournament. Failure to do so would undoubtedly mean the end of the Ben Howland era. USC showed that is is fully capable of playing at a high level, and while the Trojans may not win the conference title, they could have a say in who does down the stretch.
What’s next: UCLA is off until a home game against Washington Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. USC will play Washington State the same night at 8:30 p.m.
2dChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell