UCLA (19-3, 6-3 Pac 12) is definitely in a funk. USC (18-4, 5-4 Pac 12) was able to play a tough zone defense that pretty much hampered UCLA’s three-ball. For the game, the Bruins only shot 30 percent from beyond the arc. In the three-point contest, the Trojans were able to flip the table on UCLA, garnering an 84-76 important win for SC.
“The zone was hard to defend tonight,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “We were able to close in on it in the second half and that limited some turnovers. Overall, we did not get into the flow that we wanted to accomplish. Credit to USC.”
In addition to UCLA’s icy three-point shooting, to make matters even worse, the Bruins were very sloppy with the basketball, turning it over 17 times. UCLA did have 18 assists, but were way below their assist to turnover ratio this season. In contrast, USC had 20 assists, against only nine turnovers.
“We dug ourselves a big hole tonight in the first half with a high number of turnovers, and that’s something you cannot afford on the road against a team like USC,” Alford said. “They were able to get a lot of points in transition, and that was thanks to our turnover woes. Our turnovers led to a lot of three-point baskets from USC.”
In the first-half, when the Trojans took a commanding 11 point lead, the Trojans hit 47 percent of their three-point tries (9-19). The Bruins were only 2-5 in the first half. It appeared that the Trojans flipping UCLA's own game on the Bruins. The first stanza made all the difference between winning and losing for UCLA.
“That was a big win for our team,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “The players played exceptionally hard. They shared the basketball. They got hands on a lot of balls and we affected the game with our defense.”
“When you play a team like UCLA that is so explosive, if you turn the ball over it leads to points. The team executed our game plan exceptionally well. One of that was to force turnovers."
Even in an off night, the Bruins did have four players score in double figures. Isaac Hamilton had a team high 20 points for UCLA. Lonzo Ball had another double-double, but not his usual kind. Against the Trojans, Ball scored 15 points and had a team high 10 boards. In an unusual turn of events, Ball had seven turnovers and only four assists. Look for a big comeback game out of Ball. Aaron Holiday had 15 points off the bench and Thomas Welsh added 13.
Now the Bruins must hit the road and play the Washington schools, but will have a bye this coming weekend. UCLA Coach Steve Alford thinks the bye will do his team good.
“I think our bye week comes at the perfect time,” Alford said. “We get a week to regroup and go back to the film and get back to the style of play we want on the Washington road trip next week. We fought back hard tonight, but we need to get back to the flow that we like.”