Photo: Alex Gallardo / LAT
Say what you want about last night's game, but from what I have heard it was a spectacle to watch. SC has some gamers, but their youth is still exposed and only time and experience will toughen them up. This rivalry is getting pretty intense on the basketball court and while some would argue about whether some supposed gap is closing or not you have to admit that when these two programs play its fun to watch. Just like an old fashioned donnybrook. Someone emailed me today to say that they saw elsewhere that some saw it as ho-hum win, to which I replied: that's right Huckleberry just keep thinking that way because if your team takes on that attitude it will spell doom for you. I did not see the comment in question myself but I trust the source. Whatever, we all have our crosses to bear.
SC came out fired up going 9 of 11 in the beginning of the game. They found a way to soften up the vaunted Bruin defense and showed that they came to play. Tim Floyd used a 2-3 zone against the Bruins and it seemed to keep them off balance, as they didn't seem to shoot well. SC found a way to contain Afflalo, or was it just a bad game, but he was 3 for 11 for his worst shooting performance of the season. SC continued to press as they came out strong in the second half putting up a 38-31 lead. But as I have said before this a good Bruin team and good teams know when to dig deep and find a way to win. It's safe to say that it wasn't UCLA's best performance and the talk of a double-digit win by some was quickly put to rest. Yes, it was a win but if I'm another coach with better talent than SC I now have a blueprint as to how the Bruins can be beat.
I've seen a couple of comments about the officiating last night and all I can say is let go. Home Cookin' has been around for decades and EVERY team benefits from it at some point, so to me it pointless to even bring it up. I realize that there was a big discrepancy in the free throw shooting but that's how it goes. SC should have put the game away so that free throws wouldn't have mattered. To me it unimportant especially with how we're taking it to them in the early parts of the 1st and 2nd half.
While Loderic Stewart would disagree, I do think that the T called on Stewart was a game changer and that is where our youth shows. The kid has been through a tough week and he is still just a kid and he hasn't quite learned to bury his emotions in this type of situation. It will come in time. He will learn to channel that distraction elsewhere as all young players have to learn how to deal with these sorts of issues. Tim Floyd handled it the right way; he sat him down and went on with the game. That's what needs to be done in situations like that. I'm sure he's learned his lesson and he will move on.
I'm often surprised how we as fans sometimes lament against players when they make mistakes as we sometimes forget that they are just kids and that they have had very little experience in life and they are thrust into these sorts of situations. Sometimes they do well sometimes they don't but in the end they should be supported when they make mistakes o n the court just like we would support them when they make a big play. Thus endith the sermon
Trojans Coach Tim Floyd benched Stewart for the final 4:25 even though he had made six of eight shots and scored 13 points.
"We obviously would not like to have had that play occur," Floyd said. "It was disappointing."
Of course it was a game changer, it was a five-point swing!
I think a lot of SC fans are pleased with where we are but we would have liked to put this one in the win column and even some Bruins Fans can see that we have put together a pretty good team. Some feel that our freshman may be more talented than some on the UCLA squad but that as a team the Bruins come together to make a better total package and I have seen that and heard that from some Bruins fans, that's a big step for some Bruins fans as they have been the center stage of college basketball in the city of L.A. and while some will never give us any respect, those who do understand that a competitive USC team is good for all and that good for the rivalry.