The first time that UCLA basketball faced USC, the Trojans beat them 84-76. That loss moved UCLA to 19-3 on the season and 6-3 in the Pac-12. Earlier on in the year, UCLA was considered one of the best teams in the entire country and a favorite to win it all in college basketball. However, after losing to three Pac-12 opponents in USC, Arizona and Oregon, it seemed like they weren’t going to live up to their crazy hype.
UCLA may be living up to it now.
Since that loss to the Trojans, the Bruins have bounced back and won five straight games, including wins over Oregon and most recently USC. UCLA is now 24-3 on the year and 11-3 in conference. The Bruins are starting to play their best basketball of the year at the perfect time, and they had their best performance of the year against USC.
UCLA’s dominating 102-70 victory over the Trojans wasn’t just a typical showcase of the Bruin offensive talent, but also a game that showed how much they’ve improved defensively. UCLA has received a lot of backlash throughout the entire year over their lack of defense, but things seem to be finally changing. UCLA looked like a good defensive team for the entirety of the game, only giving up 34 points in the first half and 36 in the second. Bennie Boatwright was able to score 20 points in the game, but only one other player even scored in double-digits.
UCLA was also able to hold USC to 34% shooting from the field and 32% from three-point territory. In their first matchup, the Trojans shot a much higher 40% from the field and 41% from three.
When the Bruins can hold their opponent to only 70 points, their offense will always score enough to win them the game. Against USC, the UCLA offense did more than enough to win them the game. All five starters scored in double-digits, with Bryce Alford leading the way scoring 26 points on five made threes. Alford lead the charge in the second half especially, scoring ten points in a row at a certain point. TJ lead added 19 points while Thomas Welsh had 16 rebounds to go along with 16 points.
Freshman star Lonzo Ball had another superb game as well, almost going for a triple-double with 15 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds. Ball hit a signature deep three-pointer to end the first half, and he had a spectacular alley-oop dunk with 2:30 left to cap off the game.
Looking ahead, UCLA plays Arizona State Thursday night, a team they beat by 22 points the first time they played. After that, the Bruins will go up again against the Arizona Wildcats. The Bruins will be looking for a big win as they have already avenged their losses to Oregon and USC.