When the final whistle blew, No.6/5 rated UCLA (24-3, 11-3 Pac 12), made a statement, in very convincing fashion, ending the Trojans' four game winning streak against the Bruins, whipping USC (21-6, 8-6 Pac 12), 102-70, extending UCLA's current winning streak to five games.
In front of a sellout crowd of 13,659 delirious fans, UCLA put on quite an offensive show. All five starters scored in double figures, led by senior guard, Bryce Alford’s game high 26 points. Alford also chipped in six assists and didn’t commit any turnovers.
Freshman forward, TJ Leaf scored 19 points, had eight boards and three blocked shots. Junior center, Thomas Welsh had a double-double scoring 16 points and tying a career high 16 rebounds. Welsh’s 16 boards were also a game high.
Freshman sensation point guard, Lonzo Ball fell just shy of a triple double scoring 15 points, a game high eight assists and eight rebounds. He hit a deep three-pointer at the half-time buzzer to lift the Bruins to a 12 point lead going into the second stanza.
Senior guard, Isaac Hamilton added 13 points to cause and Aaron Holiday scored seven points off the bench, four assists and two steals.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “I thought they played really well tonight. We really did a good job on the backboard. I thought what we did on the backboard was special and then we cut down on turnovers.”
“When our turnovers are 12 or fewer, we play at a whole different level because it keeps us out of transition defense—it’s where we’ve given up easy things—and it gives us some more shots on goal.”
“Getting 78 shots up, we’ve going to make more than we’re going to miss with this team. Thought we did a really good job. To get beat 19-to-8 on the free throw line in makes, 27-to-8 on attempts, and still win the way we won, I’m just awfully proud of the guys.”
As good as the Bruins were offensively, they were just as good defensively holding the Trojans to shooting just 33.8 percent from the floor, in contrast, UCLA shot 53.8 percent from the field and that is the makings of a 32 point victory
“We’ve just talked about, really since the SC game, I just thought the time we got to the Arizona game at home and the SC game on the road, our guys were, more than anything, a little mentally tired,” Alford said. “We went into a bye week after that, and we’ve since had another bye week going into this week”
“So we’ve had two bye weeks where we’ve been able to get a little rest and then really work on some things that we needed to work on—whether that be offensive execution or at the defensive end.”
“In these five games, we’re 5-0 in February since that break, our defense has made great strides. Our efficiency is much, much better. They’re just very focused. We won a lot of games early by running away and scoring 100 points, and then when you lose a couple, it gets guys’ attention of if we’re going to play and try to win at the highest level, we don’t have to be a perfect defense, but we do have to be better. And I think over the last two-and-a-half to three weeks we’ve really improved.”
UCLA will hit the road to play Arizona State on Thursday, Feb. 23, playing at ASU's Wells Fargo Arena. Game time is scheduled for 6:00PM PST and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.