Bruins roll over USC, earn 20th win

LOS ANGELES — UCLA was embarrassed at home by their crosstown rival last month. Not only did USC beat them on Jan. 30, they danced all over the new Pauley.

On Sunday, having to face USC in their home gym, UCLA was without one of their leading scorers, Travis Wear. Shabazz Muhammad, who’s been battling pink eye, played despite having a swollen right eye. Over the course of an eight-day layoff in between games, the Bruins were handed another favor in the form of an Oregon loss, which had them tied atop the Pac-12 standings in the loss column.

So, when they entered Galen Center on Sunday afternoon, they needed to make a statement.

The statement was a loud one in a 75-59 win over USC (12-15, 7-7 Pac-12).

The win wasn’t without some restraint from the Trojans. The Bruins (20-7, 10-4 Pac-12) led by as much as 25 points early in the second half. As the Trojans tried to claw back, things got chippy.

With 12:18 left in the game and the Bruins up 59-42, Norman Powell found himself involved in a skirmish. Renaldo Woolridge jumped on the back of Powell while going for a rebound. Those two were tangled up.

Powell emerged with the ball when he and USC center Omar Oraby had words. In the process, Eric Wise snatched the ball from the grasp of Powell after the whistle was blown dead which made the Bruins sophomore even more agitated.

He later shoved Oraby and each of them was assessed technical fouls.

Just over three minutes later, Shabazz Muhammad was on a breakaway. The freshman went up for a dunk but he was pulled down from behind by Byron Wesley. The Trojans sophomore was assessed a flagrant one. The Bruins led 65-46 after Muhammad made one of two free throws.

“It just comes with the territory,” said Larry Drew II of the chippy play. “It’s always going to be a very competitive game every time UCLA and USC meet up.”

The foul seemed to spark the Trojans as they went on a 13-3 run after that point to get to within nine points of the lead, 68-59 with 4:01 to play.

The Trojans, however, were held scoreless the rest of the way. UCLA showed some serious moxy, ending the game on a 7-0 run.

“To win, here on the road, without Travis available to us was absolutely a significant statement by our young guys and our team,” Howland said.

Ironically enough, just how the Bruins ended the game on a 7-0 run, they started the game with a 7-0 run as well.

The Bruins were on fire out of the gate making eight of their first 10 shots and jumping out to a 19-6 lead. Eight of those points were scored by Drew II. The senior point guard finished with 11 points and six assists.

“They got really good looks and they were pretty much making everything early on,” USC head coach Bob Cantu said.

Starting in place of his twin brother, David Wear had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Adams had a game-high 20 points. Fellow freshman Tony Parker scored eight points in 17 minutes off of the bench. Both are his highest totals in any conference game he’s appeared in this season.

“He’s really improving,” Howland said. “I couldn’t be happier for a guy.” 

The Bruins head coach is just as happy for his team. UCLA remains just a half game behind Arizona and Oregon, with each of the teams having four conference losses. They’ll now have a short week to prepare for the Arizona schools beginning with a visit from Arizona State on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at new Pauley Pavilion.