Bruins advance to face Arizona

Lazeric Jones scored 15 points and UCLA got untracked after an awful first half to beat rival Southern California 55-40 Wednesday in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament.

The fifth-seeded Bruins (19-13) advanced to a quarterfinal game Thursday at Staples Center against fourth-seeded Arizona, which got a first-round bye. The teams split in the regular season.

Travis Wear scored 12 points and twin brother David had 10 rebounds as the Bruins completed a season sweep of the hapless Trojans, who lost their season-high 10th in a row.

UCLA big man Joshua Smith didn’t play in the first half at the decision of coach Ben Howland. He finished with five points and zero rebounds after picking up three fouls in less than a minute.

The Bruins won their third in a row and will need three more victories to take the tournament title and guarantee themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament. Otherwise, they’re likely to miss out for the second time in three seasons.

USC (6-26) finished with a school-record number of losses and was held under 50 points for the 13th game, tying a record from the 1948 season.

The 12th-seeded Trojans were led by freshman Byron Wesley with 13 points and Garrett Jackson with 11. Leading scorer Maurice Jones, who accounts for nearly 25 percent of his team’s scoring, was held to seven points.

The Trojans had won their first game of the tournament the last four times they had played in it, including last year, when they reached the semifinals. But injuries that decimated the lineup and poor shooting doomed them throughout the season. They went 1-19 in their final 20 games, with their lone Pac-12 win coming against new league member Utah.

Both teams stumbled through an abysmal first half, with UCLA shooting 23 percent to USC’s 28 percent. They combined for eight assists and 11 turnovers.

The Bruins took control for good with a 26-4 run over both halves that extended their one-point halftime advantage to 39-25 with 14:09 remaining. Shortly thereafter, Smith picked up three fouls in quick succession and delivered a swift kick to the sideboards before sitting down.

UCLA got balanced scoring in its decisive spurt, with Smith contributing a three-point play, Tyler Lamb hitting two 3-pointers and Jones scoring seven points.

The Bruins closed the first half on a 9-0 run to erase an eight-point deficit and lead 22-21, the fewest points the Bruins have scored in a half this season.

Jones had five points and Travis Wear four in the spurt. The Trojans didn’t score over the final 3:57, with Jones going scoreless despite playing all 20 minutes.

USC’s Eric Strangis missed a layup with 1 second remaining, and the Bruins began bolting from their bench for the locker room. But the referees reviewed the video and restored the clock to 1.2 seconds, enough time for David Wear to launch a long final shot that fell short.

UCLA improved to 2-1 all time in the tournament against USC.