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Assessing the Galen Factor

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In its three years of existence, the UCLA Bruins have never lost a game at Galen Center, and any Westwood denizen will be quick to point that out. Despite its little history, Bruin fans have watched their team enjoy much success at "The House that Mayo Built?":

Yes, for all those millions of dollars spent on the facility, the Trojans still haven't had their golden moment at home against the Bruins - 0-3 in the last three years of hosting the Bruins at the Galen Center. And over the years, heartbreak has been present in all its forms.

USC's closest bout was its opening one. In 2007, the Trojans looked poised to capture that signature win at the Galen Center after Nick Young converted a four-point play. But Arron Afflalo sank a mid-range jumper with four seconds left to put USC back in its place.

The hype was ripe the following year, when the Trojans had already taken down UCLA at Pauley Pavilion entering the return trip to Galen. But a packed house watched USC's supernova during a 56-46 drubbing that featured 10 turnovers from O.J. Mayo alone.

Even last year when the Trojans kept pace until the end, the Bruins proved to be too much down the stretch and won by four points on the heels of stellar outings by Darren Collison and Nikola Dragovic.

The lack of head-to-head success the Trojans have had at home against the Bruins, has caused most powder blue backers to toss aside the notion that Galen Center presents the Trojans with any sort of home court advantage.

For a team that struggles to reach half capacity on most nights, it's not a ridiculous assertion. In general, Galen crowds don't make it incredibly challenging on opposing teams, as a 4,500 lackadaisical LA bunch isn't the least bit intimidating. While the student section is filled to capacity when school is in session, the arena is often empty in the upper deck and those who do show up tend to remain seated for most of the action.

But nevertheless, if 2010 is any indication, the 10,000-seat arena that sits on Jefferson and Figueroa does provide the Trojans with some form of home-court advantage. While it certainly isn't to the level of Oregon's McArthur Court or Wisconsin's Kohl Center, the team's current home record seems to suggest that ‘SC plays much better at Galen Center. Through thirteen home games thus far this season, the Trojans are 10-3 - one of the better home records in the Pac-10. With an eligible Mike Gerrity, the Trojans have lost just one home game - a 67-60 defeat at the hands of Washington State.

So while the folks across town may tend to toss aside the notion of Galen Center providing a home court advantage, it's impossible to deny that it does put the Trojans in a better position to win their second game against the Bruins this season.