Bruins, Trojans prepare for battle of LA
UCLA will enter enemy territory on Sunday when they invade the Galen Center to take on USC. Then again, they've been in enemy territory all season long.
They've played the majority of their home games at the Sports Arena next door to the Coliseum — home of USC football.
The trip Sunday should seem like any other trip they've taken to Downtown L.A. this season, but head coach Ben Howland says it's different.
"We haven't been playing in the Galen Center, and that's a big difference. They're going to have all of their fans there," Howland said. "They're going to be on their home floor, and they're going to be fired up and its SC-UCLA. I don't think it gives us any hidden advantage that we've been playing down at the Sports Arena for many of our games."
Still, there's something to be said about the trek this time around. The Bruins (9-7, 2-2 Pac-12) have become more comfortable in their skin this season as Los Angeles' version of college basketball nomads.
"It doesn't make it that big of a deal. I think everybody's used to playing in a gym where the majority of fans aren't for us," Tyler Lamb said.
They've been in enemy territory all season long, but this will be their first time doing so in a rivalry game.
The rivalry still has its luster for the players who insist that despite the Trojans 5-12 (0-4, Pac-12) record and lack of star power, the game is just as big.
"Us versus USC, that's the battle of L.A. and one of the biggest rivalries, so we always want to beat them," Lamb said. "It's still a big deal. This game is not just between us. It's for us as well as our alumni, and they're playing for themselves as well as their alumni. USC and UCLA has always been a huge rivalry, and that's part of the reason why I came here."
Howland says it doesn't matter who the Trojans put on the floor, they're going to play hard.
"They're going to be very difficult on their home floor. Because it's the SC-UCLA game you can throw out all records and all what's happened and none of it is pertinent. It's all about UCLA playing USC," Howland said.
One thing that is for certain, a streak will end on Sunday. The Trojans are riding a five-game losing streak.
The Bruins have yet to win a game on an opponent's home floor. They're 0-2 this season.