Sunday, January 15, 2012
Basketball: UCLA 66, USC 47
By Pedro Moura
LOS ANGELES -- A rivalry game would bring out the energy, right?
5-12 USC's chance to redeem itself a bit against crosstown UCLA would mean the Trojans would play with more focus than they had been exhibiting of late, right?
The Trojans played one of their worst games of the 2011-2012 season at the Galen Center on Sunday night, falling 66-47 to the rival Bruins in their sixth straight loss and ninth in their last 10 games.
"A game like that, you would think that we would come out and execute a lot better," freshman guard Alexis Moore said afterward. "Honestly, we embarrassed ourselves.
"We did a disservice to the university in our effort and how we played."
USC (5-13, 0-5 in the Pac-12) started off the game well, taking a 7-4 lead five minutes in. But UCLA (10-7, 3-2) fought back by the 12-minute mark and didn't come close to losing its lead from then on.
The Trojans shot just 36 percent from the field for the game, the sixth straight time they've shot under 40 percent. Point guard Maurice Jones had 13 points to lead them, but no other player was in double digits. UCLA had three players -- David and Travis Wear and Lazeric Jones -- with 13 points or more.
"We’re struggling to score obviously," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said. "It’s been one of our problems all year and it continues to be one of our problems."
O'Neill said he was disappointed with his team's energy on the defensive end in the first half. The Bruins shot 64 percent in the game's first 20 minutes to take a 37-19 lead into the break. The second half was more even, with UCLA outscoring USC by just one, 29-28.
Asked if he could see evidence that his Trojans are improving this season as they continue to lose games in what's now a full-fledged rebuilding year, O'Neill wasn't quite willing to say that he was.
"We are what we are," O'Neill said. "We’re pretty solid defensively, but we’re a team that struggles to score.
"We are who we are, and we obviously didn’t play well today."
Player of the game: Maurice Jones was the only USC player able to produce effectively on offense, although he again failed to shoot well. But he did finish with 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting, adding three assists while turning the ball over only once.
He hasn't had the type of numbers O'Neill indicated he would at the outset of this season, but the primary reason the Trojans are losing ballgames is not his performance. He is double-teamed with regularity as opponents realize no other player can produce his own shot.
Forward Aaron Fuller also earned praise from O'Neill postgame for playing 23 minutes and scoring eight points despite being bothered by injuries to both his shoulders. He didn't practice all week.
Stat of the game: USC was out-rebounded 44-19 by UCLA -- a margin that almost doubled the previous high this season, 13 against New Mexico on Dec. 10. The Bruins hadn't beaten a team by that much on the glass since Ben Howland's first season in 2003-2004.
It was also more rebounds than any USC opponent has posted this season, one more than the previous high by Nebraska on Nov. 14.
In a true rarity, UCLA rebounded more of its 25 missed shots than USC did, with 13 offensive rebounds to the Trojans' 11 defensive rebounds. (One went out of bounds.)
Quote of the game: "I was happy as hell to see that go in." -- O'Neill
Freshman guard Byron Wesley tried to throw an alley-oop pass with 1:25 left to go in the game, but the ball actually went directly into the basket for two points, which drew a laugh from fans still at the game.
It was one of two field goals the 6-5 Wesley scored on the night, as he finished with five points in 36 minutes.
Final notes: Announced attendance at the Galen Center was 8,474 -- the biggest crowd at the arena this season but the smallest crowd for a USC home game against UCLA since the arena opened in 2006...The jersey of former USC All-American Harold Miner was retired and raised to the rafters at halftime. Miner was also present at the game and gave a speech, thanking fans for the support. He said he hoped he gave Trojan fans "their money's worth each and every night" for the three seasons he played at USC...The 19-point margin of victory was the largest for UCLA in a game at USC since 1999