Dominant 2nd half leads USC past UCLA in first matchup of season

Nick Rakocevic had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Bennie Boatwright added 21 points and Southern California pulled away in a dominant second half to beat UCLA 80-67 on Saturday, snapping a four-game skid in the crosstown rivalry.

The Trojans led by 26 points in the second half.

Boatwright, a local product once recruited by the Bruins, got the decisive 28-7 run going with back-to-back 3-pointers after UCLA tied the game at 38-all. He had another 3-pointer and basket in succession and Rakocevic added nine points to give USC a 66-45 lead.

Jonah Mathews added 16 points for the Trojans (10-8, 3-2 Pac-12), who ended a two-game losing streak while winning their fifth straight home game. He had four 3-pointers and Boatwright hit five of USC’s 12.

Prince Ali and Jaylen Hands scored 15 points each for UCLA (10-8, 3-2). Kris Wilkes added 13 points.

The Bruins have lost two in a row and six of nine. They were thoroughly dominated in the second half after leading just twice in the game’s opening 20 minutes.

USC was 12 of 29 from 3-point range and had 26 assists on 30 baskets.

The Trojans delivered the first blow, opening the game on a 16-4 spurt.

UCLA answered with a 19-5 run to take a 23-22 lead, just their second of the half. But the Trojans came right back with seven straight points as part of a 14-10 run to close the first half leading 36-33.

The Bruins were held to one 3-pointer in the half when they did most of their scoring inside, owning a 25-18 edge in the paint.

BIG PICTURE

UCLA: The Bruins are still finding their way three weeks after coach Steve Alford was fired. After winning their first three games under interim coach Murry Bartow, they’ve lost two in a row.

USC: The Trojans need to capitalize during a stretch of three straight home games. After the Arizona schools visit, USC has just four home games remaining. They’ve lost five in a row to Arizona

UP NEXT

UCLA: Hosts Arizona State on Thursday.

USC: Hosts Arizona on Thursday.