Friday, February 22, 2013
First look: UCLA at USC
By Peter Yoon
What: UCLA Bruins (19-7, 9-4) at USC Trojans (12-14, 7-6)
When: Sunday, 12:30 p.m. PT
Where: Galen Center, Los Angeles
TV: Fox Sports Net
Radio: AM 570
Scouting the Bruins: UCLA will have had eight days of rest since an 88-80 victory over Stanford in its last game on Feb. 16. They have won three of their past four games since losing to USC on Jan. 30 and need a victory to retain in a share of first place in the Pac-12 conference race.
The Bruins are averaging a conference-best 76 points but had averaged only 65.8 in the five games before their 88-point outburst at Stanford. The Bruins also lead the Pac-12 in shooting percentage (46.4) and have the fewest average turnovers (11.2 per game) in the conference. They are last, however, in rebounding margin (minus-0.7) and have been outrebounded in six consecutive games. USC outrebounded UCLA, 44-36, when the teams last met. Freshman Shabazz Muhammad leads the scoring attack with 18.5 points per game and has scored 22 or more in three of the past five games. He's also averaging 7.0 rebounds over the past four games -- almost two per game better than his season average. Larry Drew II has caught fire in recent games, shooting 55.6 percent over the past four games, including seven of 10 on 3-pointers. Jordan Adams also regained his stroke and is shooting 58.1 percent over the past three games after shooting just 33.3 percent over the six games before that.
Scouting the Trojans: USC had won four consecutive games before letting a 15-point, second-half lead get away in a 76-68 loss Feb. 17 at California. That streak began with a 75-71 overtime victory over the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion and had the Trojans rolling in the right direction under interim coach Bob Cantu until last week's setback. USC will have had seven days to sit on that heartbreaking loss in Berkeley. The Trojans would be only a game out of first place in the conference standings had they held on, but now are two back and need to win Sunday to avoid falling three back with four games to play.
USC is averaging 69.8 points and is shooting 44.2 percent in Pac-12 games, ranking fourth and second, respectively, in the conference in each category. Guard J.T. Terrell is the hottest Trojan, with double-figure scoring in 10 of the past 11 games. He's averaging 10.9 points for the season, but that's up to 13.6 over that 11-game span. He's also leading the Pac-12 with 2.4 made 3-pointers per game. Eric Wise leads the team overall with 12 points a game. Dewayne Dedmon, the 7-foot center, is the team leader with 6.8 rebounds per game and also averages 2.1 blocked shots to rank No. 3 in the Pac-12.
The series: UCLA leads the all-time series, 132-105. The Trojans defeated UCLA, 75-71, in overtime on Jan. 30 at Pauley Pavilion and are looking to sweep the season series for the second time in four years.
Quick quote: "It's depressing," UCLA coach Ben Howland said about watching tape of the Jan. 30 loss to USC. "They were very good and we were very poor. It wasn't pretty."