Anderson, UCLA dominate rival USC in Pac-12 opener
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Actor Donnie Wahlberg got a big cheer when he was shown on the big screen, proudly holding up the ticket to his courtside seat.
Jim Harrick, who coached the Bruins to the National Championship in 1995, was also featured on the center-court scoreboard, drawing a healthy share of applause.
Then there was the Bruins' dismantling of their crosstown rivals from USC.
Kyle Anderson scored 23 points and added 12 rebounds to record his eighth double-double of the season, leading UCLA to a 107-73 win over USC in the first Pac-12 matchup of the season for both teams.
The 107 points tied a record for the most points scored by UCLA against USC. The 1966-67 Bruins reached that total in a 107-83 win over the Trojans on Dec. 30, 1966.
"I think it was a very good win," Anderson said. "A very good win makes a statement. Fortunately we scored a lot of points. A very stable win sends a very good message."
Jordan Adams and Bryce Alford helped deliver the message, scoring 21 and 20 points, respectively. Alford's 20 points established a new career high. Their contributions helped the Bruins improve to 12-2 on the season, and 1-0 in the Pac-12. UCLA also kept its perfect record at home intact.
So who exactly is supposed to be hearing this message? There is a good chance that the Trojans, who fell to 0-1 in conference play and 9-5 overall, got this one. UCLA is also hopeful that Arizona, the No. 1 team in the nation and the Bruins next opponent, was paying attention.
"It's always good to beat your rival but the way that we played is a big thing," said Alford, a freshman guard. "The fact that we've got Arizona next makes this a very big win for us."
The win said something for UCLA's 11 pre-conference wins, which came against seemingly soft opponents. The Bruins were obviously able to use those games to prepare for at least their first conference opponent.
The loss spoke volumes for the Trojans, who were coming off an easy win over Howard, though they needed a strong second half to do it. Prior to that game, USC beat Dayton in overtime and lost to Long Beach State, a school in the Big West Conference.
"For some reason, we didn't look like the same team we have been over the last three weeks," USC coach Andy Enfield said. "I don't know if it was emotional or if they were nervous but we really made some very unusual turnovers for us. We were getting rushed."
The Bruins put the pressure on the Trojans early.
"We just didn't come out ready to play," USC guard Byron Wesley said. "I think the first five minutes really set the tone for us and we just dug ourselves into too big a hole."
Anderson went 6-for-7 from the floor in the first half, for 14 points. He also had six rebounds and five assists in the game's first 20 minutes.
The Trojans were without 7-foot-2 center Omar Oraby for most of the first half. He crashed to the floor, less than three minutes into the contest, holding his right ankle and had to be helped off of the court. He returned a few minutes later but played just five minutes of the opening frame.
"I think it helped us because he's a very good player," Anderson said of Oraby's injury. "He has a good presence inside so I think that helped us out a lot."
Oraby returned in the second half but fouled out with 7:39 remaining in the game.
"Omar is a big part of our team," Enfield said. "I thought that was one advantage we might have because he is bigger, he has good footwork and can score on the low post. With him being hurt, out of the game for a while and then in foul trouble, that kind of eliminated the one advantage we had."
USC used a 7-0 run midway through the first half to get to within three points of UCLA but the Bruins responded with a 20-7 run of their own, and eventually led by as many as 25 points before the break.
"We thought they would want to run," UCLA coach Steve Alford said of USC. "That's the way we like to play. It was about which team was going to defend the best, which team was going to be better on transition. We finished at the rim and were able to make our 3-point shots."
The Bruins opened up the second half with a 12-3 run, taking a 68-37 lead in the process, and never looked back.
They shot 58 percent from the floor while committing just 10 turnovers.
USC, on the other hand, hit 42 percent of their field goals, turned the ball over 17 times and continued to struggle (16 for 30) at the free-throw line.
"This kind of performance is unacceptable and we just have to put it behind us," Wesley added. "Anytime you lose, it's tough but you lose by almost 40 to your rivals, there are no positives."
The Trojans were able to put together a 14-2 spurt, cutting UCLA's lead to 70-51 but the Trojans couldn't get any closer. Oraby and Julian Jacobs accounted for 10 of those points.
The Trojans were led by Wesley and J.T. Terrill, who scored 21 and 14 points, respectively. Jacobs finished with 10.