Bumped. Great story. GO BRUINS. -N
The first UCLA-USC basketball showdown I ever attended was my freshman year, 1971. Younger folks will find this absolutely bizarre, but USC was undefeated and, imagine this, ranked #1 in the nation. Defending NCAA champ Bruins had lost to Notre Dame (incredible Austin Carr performance) and were rated #2. It was a Trojan home game, in the Sports Arena. We visiting students naturally had terrible seats, pretty high up in a corner behind the end line -- but we could see and yell. From interesting article on Trojans' remembrances 25 years later:
USC Athletic Director Jess Hill admitted to making a small mistake in allotting 6,000 tickets to UCLA (4,200 more tickets than UCLA was entitled to) because he didn't expect the turnout.
They had a very talented squad, with Layton (I thought he was the best), Westphal (he came with the ink but didn't seem as good to me), Mackey, Riley (very good), and a couple of others. We merely had Wicks and Rowe and Patterson and Bibby, plus an unsettled guard spot (Booker/Schofield). We of course expected to win. It may have been their home court, but Bruin banners were paraded around the floor: "SC #1? They can't even count that high!" and one about Prothro's upset win in football that year. Also from the same article linked above:
When game time finally did arrive, Traveler--the football horse--was in the Sports Arena.
With 9:30 remaining in the game, SC led by 59-50. UCLA hadn't been playing exceptionally well, obviously, or exceptionally poorly. It didn't feel to us like the game was over. But the Trojan fans were going insane, screaming at us that they were #1.
They never made another basket, Wooden players simply outscoring them 14-1 down the stretch. UCLA went back to #1 in the nation and would stay there through an NCAA record 88-game winning streak.
Meanwhile poor SC had to beat us in Pauley to tie for the conference (they had never lost another game and were ranked #2) and force a playoff game, because in the good old days if you didn't win your conference, you didn't go to the NCAA. We won, of course, so I still have my priority number for the right to buy a ticket for the playoff game -- a lasting souvenir of the famous 64-60 game. Here's hoping the end of the season is the same for Ben's Men.