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UCLA defeats USC Men’s basketball 76-74 in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament

USC had their opportunities to knock off the Bruins but could not pull off the upset.

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament - USC vs UCLA Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Missed opportunities plagued USC Men’s basketball against UCLA Thursday night. The Trojans had every opportunity to take this game and advance to the semifinals but the Bruins knocked off USC 76-74.

The USC Trojans started off the game ice cold on offense going a full 4:57 without scoring to start the game. With 15:03 left in the first half, Bennie Boatwright finally snapped the cold streak with a 3-pointer. The Trojans could not buy a basket and they seemed worn down and out of rhythm.

UCLA Bruins star Lonzo Ball picked up two fouls early in the game and had to sit out for 5 minutes. The Trojans were not able to take advantage and still trailed by 8 when Ball returned. Shortly thereafter Chimezi Metu found himself in early foul trouble and the Bruins began to pull away.

The Trojans would not be detered however as they slowly clawed their way back trailing by the score of 32-26 with 3:12 left int he first half headed into a UCLA timeout. Lonzo Ball came out of the timeout and nailed two 3 pointers but the Trojans would not go away. The Trojans went on an 8-0 run after 4 UCLA players got into early foul trouble. It was clear that the offensive production for the Bruins drops significantly when Lonzo Ball is on the bench.

The Trojans would go into the break down 38-35.

Second half:

The Trojans once again came out flat and the Bruins quickly extended the lead to 50-37 in the first five minutes. USC looked as though they were going through motions. Statistically the Trojans were abysmal.

With 5:34 left in the second half Jordan McLaughlin lobbed the ball all the way from half court to Elijah Stewart who dunked it completing an insane alley-oop that lit a fire under the Trojans who closed the lead down to 71-69. The Trojans stepped it up on defense but repeatedly failed to convert on offense.

As the game entered the final minute of the second half USC trailed only 3 but Boatwright missed a would be game tying 3 pointer. UCLA had a free throw opportunity at the other end but missed. The Trojans took the rebound and called timeout with 30 seconds left. True to form to the rest of the evening USC could not come up with any points on the possession.

UCLA would win 76-74. The Trojans once again failed to defeat a ranked opponent. The Trojans were projected as an 11-seed headed into the game according to Joe Lunardi at ESPN.