One thing is for certain when No.6/5 rated UCLA (23-3, 10-3 Pac 12) tips off against USC (21-5, 8-5 Pac 12) Saturday Evening in Pauley Pavilion, one four game winning streak will end.
The last time the Bruins played the Trojans they lost 84-76. That was four games ago. UCLA is currently on a four game wining streak. The Trojans have a historical four game winning streak against the Bruins. Yes, that’s right, dating back to last season, the Trojans have beat the Bruins four straight. Something has to give.
In victory over the Bruins last month on January 25, the Trojans were able to play a tough zone defense that took UCLA out of their offense. USC’s zone defense hampered UCLA’s three-ball and forced, the normally good taking of the basketball Bruins, into 17 turnovers.
The way the first game went it appeared that the Trojans flipped the table on the Bruins. UCLA was way below their assist to turn over ratio, in contrast, USC had 20 assists and 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 after the first contest against USC. “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. The first stanza made all the difference between winning and losing for UCLA.
The Trojans were able to beat the Bruins the first time around while, arguably USC’s best player, sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright (6-10, 230) was sidelined with an injury. With Boatwright in the lineup, the Trojans are 8-1. In his return game against, Washington, Boatwright scored 23 points.
Junior point guard, Jordan McLaughlin (6-1, 180) leads the Trojans in assists averaging 5.1 apg. That is places him third in the conference. No slouch in the scoring department either, McLaughlin averages 12.9 ppg.
USC has one of the best three-point shooters in the conference in junior guard, Elijah Stewart (6-5, 190), who has made 62 three-pointers, third best in the Pac 12 conference.
Sophomore forward, Chimezie Metu (6-11, 225) is really coming into his own as a basketball player. Over the last 10 games, Metu is averaging 16.3 ppg. For the season his average of 14.2 ppg tops the Trojans. He also leads the team in rebounds averaging 7.4 rpg and blocked shots with 41.
Like the Bruins, USC has two outstanding freshmen to keep an eye on, in guards, De’Anthony Melton (6-4, 190) and Jonah Mathews (6-3, 185).
The game at Pauley Pavilion (13,800) is sold out and the scheduled tipoff is at 7:06PM PST and will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Network with Ted Robinson doing the play-by-play, former Pac 12 coaching great Mike Montgomery analyzing the action and Lewis Johnson covering court side.
UCLA’s flagship station AM 570 will broadcast the game with Josh Lewin (play-by-play), and Bruin great Tracy Murray (analyst) in their usual roles.
SIRIUS/XM Radio Channel: Ch. 81/Ch. 81 and SIRIUS App. Channel: Ch. 81 will also broadcast the contest.