By Chris Foster and Baxter Holmes Los Angeles Times
UCLA point guard Malcolm Lee will take the blame.
This was a recurring theme. The Bruins are the gift that keeps on giving. Opposing teams are grateful for the assist.
UCLA had 20 turnovers in a 68-64 loss to USC on Sunday.
“I’ll put the turnovers on me,” Lee said. “They were just bad decisions. I have to read the defense better.
“Bad plays feed off bad play.”
Lee, who is getting on-the-job training at point guard, had six turnovers. But it wasn’t just the quantity, it was the quality.
Before halftime, the Bruins had a lead. Jerime Anderson, Lee’s backup, and the little-used Mike Moser had turnovers and USC took a 32-29 lead into the locker room.
Twice late in the game, the Bruins had a chance to cut a 56-52 lead to two points.
Both times, they handed the ball back to the Trojans, with turnovers by Anderson and Brendan Lane giving the Trojans a chance to exhale.
“We have to be able to take care of the ball better,” UCLA Coach Ben Howland said.
This was the sixth time in Pacific 10 Conference play that the Bruins have had at least 15 turnovers. They have lost five of those games.
Lee has had five or more turnovers four times in conference play, all losses.
Lee, though, was not looking at his inexperience as an excuse.
“This is a man’s game, no one is going to baby-sit you, no one is going to hold your hand,” Lee said.
UCLA forward James Keefe sat out Sunday after he re-injured his shoulder in practice Friday.
Keefe missed three games after he dislocated his left shoulder earlier this season.
“I don’t think it is anything different from the last time,” Keefe said. “It feels the same.”
Howland said the MRI exam taken Sunday morning revealed no new damage, but added that Keefe was “doubtful” for this week’s games at Washington State and Washington.
With Keefe out, Lane, a freshman, got his first start. He had played only five total minutes in the last six games.
Lane finished with two points and two rebounds against the Trojans.
Washington speaks … sort of
Even with his improved play of late earning praise from his coach, USC forward Leonard Washington has continued his perplexing season-long silence toward the media.
More perplexing, Washington was mostly silent with USC’s media relations staff as the featured player in the Trojans’ game program Sunday.
His “quotes” were really sound bites, such as “antsy”, “very hard” and “learned a lot.”
Earlier this week, USC Coach Kevin O’Neill tried to explain Washington’s muted approach, since Washington wouldn’t himself.
“That’s kind of Leonard,” O’Neill said, smiling.
Boyd makes appearance
Former USC coach Bob Boyd introduced a former Trojans player at halftime for the first time this season after being hospitalized earlier this season because of blood clots in his lungs that affected his heart.
Boyd, 79, coached the Trojans in the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s.
He has made appearances the last two seasons at USC home games to introduce former Trojans players at halftime, and seemed in good spirits Sunday as he introduced Danny Rogers, the team’s most valuable player in 1957.