-- BREAKING IT DOWN --
Key moment(s): Seven-minute second half barrage. The USC basketball team held a 41-35 lead at the break, but that six-point halftime lead disappeared in a blink during the second half Saturday night. UCLA came out of the locker room on fire to begin the final 20 minutes. The Bruins scored the first 10 points. USC responded with five points to retake a one-point lead, but UCLA basketball scored 16 of the next 17 points to take a commanding 15-point lead.
In the first 7:08 of the half, UCLA basketball had outscored the Trojans 27-6. The Bruins knocked down nine of their first 12 field goal attempts while USC had three turnovers, three missed layups, three missed 3-pointers and two missed midrange jumpers in its first 13 possessions of the first half.
And it wasn't even the Bruins' biggest stars that killed the Trojans. Rather than Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams or Zach LeVine -- UCLA's three leading scorers, it was Norman Powell and the Wear twins. The trio scored 24 of the Bruins' 27 points. Powell led the way with 12 of his 17 second-half points. He finished with a season-high 21 points.
Player of the Game: Byron Wesley. In the post-game press conference, Byron Wesley struggled to find the words to describe how he felt after the game. (See 2:00 mark below) What he managed to get out was "I really feel bad, honestly."
You can't place any blame on Wesley, however. He did just about everything he could do Saturday night. Byron Wesley had 18 points in the first half, knocking down all four of his three-point attempts, and finished with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
"Byron had another great game offensively," USC head coach Andy Enfield said. "He really shot the ball well from the perimeter. He made four threes in the first half. He's not a high volume shooter. He's a better driver -- one of the elite drivers in the conference, but he had 27, eight and four assists and played 39 plus minutes."
Most Spectacular Play(s): Going in Strong. On the Trojans' final possession of the first half, D.J. Haley set a high screen for Pe'Shon Howard with less than 10 seconds remaining. Howard stuttered, crossed over to his right hand and drove to the right side of the lane where he ran into three UCLA defenders. Howard jumped and fired a pass over his head to the left block where Haley had been left alone. Haley caught the ball and threw down a two-handed slam to give USC its 41-35 halftime advantage. (see 1:54 in Highlights below)
Pocket Picking. Twice USC guards were able to pick the pocket of dynamic UCLA point guard Kyle Anderson, who finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 6 turnovers, while he brought the ball up the court. Howard ripped him in the first half, leading to a J.T. Terrell dunk, but the more impressive swipe came from freshman Julian Jacobs.
With the Trojans trying to mount a comeback in the final few minutes, Jacobs took a gamble defensively. Anderson tried to back the ball out and reset the offense, but as he backpedalled to half court, Jacobs lunged for the ball, knocking it free. He raced to the ball before Anderson and with two dribbles took it in for a strong slam that trimmed UCLA's lead to eight with 2:16 remaining. (see 2:15 in Highlights below)
Unsung Hero: D.J. Haley. D.J. Haley will never put up gaudy statistics, but he's one of the glue guys that does all the dirty work without a complaint. On Saturday night, Haley played 17 minutes -- 11 in the second half when the Trojans were trying to dig themselves out of the hole and went with a more agile defensive unit. Haley contributed four points on 2-for-2 shooting, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
"Step It Up:" Lullaby Babies. The Trojans have yet to figure out how to play a full 40 minutes. Every game there is a stretch where USC can't buy a bucket and the other team makes a run. Tonight, the run manifested itself right after halftime, but it has happened at every different junction in different games.
Key stat(s): 27-6. The Bruins took a commanding 15-point lead by dominating the first seven minutes of the second half, coming out of the locker room on a 27-6 run.
11-for-21. The Trojans shot just 52 percent from the free throw line.
-10. It wasn't the 22 turnovers USC had against Oregon, but the Trojans gave the ball away 15 times versus UCLA and the Bruins turned that into 20 points off turnovers -- 10 more than USC scored off Bruins' turnovers.
10-for-20. After shooting 4-for-12 from deep in the first half, UCLA shot 6-for-8 on three-point attempts in the second half. When you shoot 50 percent and knock down 10 threes, you aren't going to lose many games.
57; 104. Omar Oraby took only two shots, but made an impact on the defensive end, swatting three UCLA shots to give him 57 and rank him seventh on USC's single season list. He also tied Jeff Trepagnier for sixth on the USC all-time career blocks list with 104.
Quote of the Night:
"Just to have a lapse in the second half for five minutes was really the story of the game. Once we dug ourselves into that hole it was too deep to get out." -- USC junior guard Byron Wesley
Where They Stand: The Trojans have played much better in their last five Pac-12 games after being blown out in their first five conference games. Unfortunately, USC basketball only has one win to show for it after two second-half letdowns and two overtime losses.
Can the Trojans finally figure out how to play a full 40 minutes? The second half of the conference schedule is when Andy Enfield's teams have really excelled under the young head coach. The Trojans need something to go their way before they head to Las Vegas in a month for the Pac-12 Conference Tournament.
Spotted: While shooting photos for the first half, I was sitting in one of the baseline courtside seats and was joined by a pair of Laker guards with some knowledge of the rivalry as former Bruin Jordan Farmar attended with his daughter and former Trojan Nick Young sat with his young son. Both Farmar and Young had their kids decked out in team garb. But shortly there after, I had to give up my seat as another former Trojan, current Chicago Bull Taj Gibson, came to sit down.
Sitting in the front row on the other end of the court were Athletic Director Pat Haden and USC president Max Nikias. Seated in the scouts section was former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen.