UCLA beats Southern California 85-74 to lock up No. 4 seed
LOS ANGELES (AP) UCLA locked up the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 tournament and earned itself eight days off, vital rest for a team with an eight-player rotation.
Bryce Alford scored 23 points, including five 3s, and Tony Parker added 22 in an 85-74 victory over Southern California on Wednesday night that earned the Bruins a first-round bye next week.
''I got a couple easy ones to start and then I got to the free throw line,'' said Alford, who was 7 of 10 from the field. ''You kind of get your rhythm. It's just one of those nights when the basket feels like it's really big.''
Kevon Looney had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Bruins (19-12, 11-7 Pac-12), who ended the regular season on a three-game winning streak. They finished with a 9-0 mark in league games at home for the first time since 2006-07, and went 16-1 at home overall, losing only to ranked Gonzaga.
''It's really big we were able to pull this out,'' said Norman Powell, who had 12 points. ''We're playing great basketball.''
Despite not earning a signature non-conference win, Powell believes the Bruins belong in the NCAA Tournament.
''For our resume, us holding it down at home and only losing one game, we've done enough,'' he said. ''It's just time to get some more wins in the tourney to secure that spot.''
Kaitin Reinhardt scored 22 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead the Trojans (11-19, 3-15). They also wrapped up the regular season, having won one more league game than they did in coach Andy Enfield's debut a year ago.
''I felt like we cut the lead down and then all the sudden they get an offensive rebound,'' Reinhardt said. ''We cut the lead down and they make a big three. We couldn't get over the hump.''
The Trojans tried to hang in after trailing by 12 early in the second half. Five times they cut their deficit to eight points, but never got any closer despite shooting 55 percent.
''Every time we cut it to seven or eight in the second half they stepped up and made tough shots,'' Enfield said. ''They deserve the credit. UCLA played a terrific basketball game, especially offensively.''
Reinhardt's four-point play got the Trojans to 66-58 after he was fouled by Thomas Welsh. But Alford found an open Isaac Hamilton for a 3-pointer that restored the Bruins' lead to double digits.
Another 3-pointer by Reinhardt drew the Trojans within eight for the last time. They had 18 turnovers, which led to 22 points by UCLA.
''We played well enough to win,'' Enfield said, ''but we didn't rebound well enough to win.''
The Bruins answered with seven straight points, including three by Parker, to extend their lead to 78-63.
Looney and Parker combined to score UCLA's first 15 points of the game.
''I hit Kevon with a no-look pass and channeled my inner Steve Nash for a bit,'' Parker joked. ''That really got us going.''
Eight of Looney's 13 rebounds came on the defensive glass, while six of Parker's seven were on the offensive side.
''He let me get the offense so I blessed him with some defense,'' Parker said.
As UCLA's lone senior, Powell played his last regular-season game at Pauley Pavilion. Trying for a highlight moment, he stole the ball and tore to the basket for a one-handed jam that missed. Hamilton had 13 points as all five Bruins starters scored in double figures.
Nikola Jovanovic added 16 points and Elijah Stewart had 14 points, making four 3-pointers, for USC, which will open play in the Pac-12 tourney in Las Vegas against the fifth-seeded team next Wednesday.
''They just made shots,'' Stewart said. ''The coach's son was like 6 for 7 or something; he might not shoot ever again like that in his life.''
USC led by three to start the game before getting outscored 32-11 that gave the Bruins their largest lead of the game, 41-23. Alford scored 10 points and Parker had nine in the spurt during which UCLA shot 65 percent.
The Trojans regrouped and ended the half on a 12-5 run that left them trailing 46-35. Reinhardt scored eight straight.
USC: Reserve F Strahinja Gavrilovic will miss the league tourney with a shoulder injury. It hasn't been decided yet if he'll have surgery. ... The Trojans got swept by their crosstown rival, having lost 83-66 on Jan. 14. ... They will be the No. 12 seed in the league tourney. ... Referee Mike Eggers retired after 41 years of calling NCAA games. He was congratulated by Henry Bibby, who starred at UCLA and later coached USC.
UCLA: The Alford family had a pre-game reunion on the court when guard Kory Alford was honored on senior night. The reserve who averages 1.9 minutes was accompanied by his mother Tanya, sister Kayla and grandparents Sam and Sharan Alford. They were greeted by Steve Alford, who also coaches his other son Bryce. ... Jamaal Wilkes and Ann Meyers Drysdale, who both have their retired jerseys hanging in the rafters, sat next to each other.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
''He thinks he's a really good foul shooter, so now he's all about getting fouled instead of dunking.'' - UCLA coach Steve Alford on Parker, who was 6 of 9 from the line.
USC: Pac-12 tournament next week in Las Vegas.
UCLA: Pac-12 tournament next week in Las Vegas.