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Action from one of last season’s UCLA – USC hoops battles…

 

FEATURING THE STATE OF THE BRUIN AND TROJAN BASKETBALL AT THE SEASON’S MIDWAY POINT AND A PREVIEW OF THEIR TWO UPCOMING BATTLES

 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES (UCLA) BRUINS vs UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TROJANS

THE 247th and 248th GAMES OF THE BASKETBALL VERSION OF THE CROSSTOWN RIVALRY

Scheduled Games:

Wednesday, January 25th at Galen Center, 8:00 p.m.  TV: Fox Sports 1

Saturday, February 18th at Pauley Pavilion, 7:00 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Network

All-Time Series: UCLA leads 138-108

Current Streak: USC has won the last three

Longest Streaks:

UCLA – 18 in a row from 1970-79

USC – 41 in a row from 1932-43

First Game: February, 1928 – USC won 45-35

Most Recent Game: Trojans won 95-71 in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament

 

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A Crosstown Rivalry battle from the Galen Center on USC’s campus…

 

TALE OF THE TAPE…

UCLA BRUINS

Record: 19-2, 6-2 and third place in the Pac-12 Conference

Rank: #8 AP, #7 Coaches Poll

Coach: Steve Alford, 4th year

Season Highlights To Date:

  • Started the season 13-0, which included beating then top-ranked Kentucky 97-92 at Rupp Arena on December 3rd
  • Has been ranked as high as 2nd in the polls
  • Have reached 100 points in a game seven times

Key Players:

Bryce Alford, G – 17.2 ppg

Lonzo Ball, G – 14.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 8.2 apg

Issac Hamilton, G – 15.0 ppg

T.J. Leaf, F – 16.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg

Thomas Welch, C – 10.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg

 

 

Highlights from the most recent Crosstown Rivalry basketball game, a 95-71 romp by USC over UCLA in the 2016 Pac-12 Tournament. Courtesy of YouTube.

 

USC TROJANS

Record: 17-4, 4-4 and sixth place in the Pac-12 Conference

Rank: Not currently in the top 25 but has been ranked as high as 22nd

Coach: Andy Enfield, 4th year

Season Highlight To Date:

  • Started the season 14-0, their best start since 1971

Key Players:

Jordan McLaughlin, G – 14.1 ppg, 5.1 apg

Elijah Stewart, G – 14.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg

Chimezie Metu, F – 13.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg

Bennie Boatwright, F – Has only played five games this season due to injury

 

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A USC player with a slam dunk against UCLA from a past Pac-12 Tournament game…

 

OBSERVATIONS AND THOUGHTS

My speculations of this series (with the first game being tonight!) changed when those Bruins – namely their shortcomings on defense – were exposed during their 96-85 loss to Arizona in front of a packed house at Pauley Pavilion and a national TV audience.

Considering that the Trojans’ 17-4 record was built on the backs of mediocre mid-major teams like UC Santa Barbara, Pepperdine and Cornell while UCLA was beating an elite college basketball blue blood on its home court while ranking among the top scoring teams in the country,

I thought that the Bruins had the crystal clear advantage over their south of downtown Los Angeles rivals and, while I didn’t think these two games would be blowouts, I saw Steve Alford’s team beating the Trojans comfortably.

Until I saw their defensive liabilities exposed in their last game.

Which is why Andy Enfield’s cardinal and gold bunch – backed by a rare sellout crowd at Galen Center who will undoubtedly be loud, hostile, and out to make things the polar opposite of Heaven for UCLA – is capable of beating the Bruins as their motivation and “Fight On!” attitude will be at a significantly pronounced level.

Indeed, when those Westwood hoopsters step onto that Galen Center court, not only does their defense – particularly Bryce Alford’s as Arizona was going right at him – need to be immensely better,

Their offense needs to be on as like all teams playing in front of a large, hostile crowd on the road, the Bruins goal is to quiet those ‘SC fans who will be out for blood.

Otherwise there will be several hundred Trojan students rushing the court with “Conquest”, their victory song, being heard all the way to Santa Monica beach.

The Bottom Line:  This first battle is a crossroads game for both teams.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I will have a good idea as to how the rest of the season will go for both UCLA and USC by 10:30 tonight.

SO much is at stake for the Bruins as far as ranking and NCAA tournament perceptions, while USC’s season will definitely be back on track by winning.

As a post that a UCLA fan sent to a Trojan fan on Twitter said a few weeks ago…

“It’s On!”

 

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More Bruin-Trojan hard court action from last year…

 

 

 

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