In a dominating performance that led to headlines like "Bruins use stellar play to shut up USC fans" and "UCLA rules the city after outing USC, 66-47", it was nice to wake up to read the stories this morning for the roundup. As Lazeric Jones put it:
"We lost here last year and it was really embarrassing," guard Lazeric Jones said. "That stuck with me. That was all I thought about last night and this morning. To get the win with the crowd on your back, it felt really good."
But this was not just a good win it was a beat down:
UCLA simply out muscled the Trojans down low, winning the rebounding battle by a staggering 44-19. The 25-rebound margin was the largest of the Ben Howland era at UCLA and the largest since the Bruins out-rebounded Northern Arizona by 30 in 2002.
The USC fans who were told by AD Pat Haden before the game they were needed, responded by being their natural jerky obnoxious selves but it didn't do any good (emphasis mine).
At one point during UCLA's 66-47 romp over USC at Galen Center on Sunday night, Bruins guard Lazeric Jones was greeted with a chorus of barbs from the Trojans student section as he returned to the bench for a breather.
Jones didn't take the verbal abuse personally.
"We were winning, so it hurts (them)," Jones said with a shrug. . .
"It was quiet because we quieted them down," Bruins guard Jerime Anderson said.
Or, as Trojans guard Alexis Moore said: "We embarrassed ourselves."
Of course all was not perfect as the Bruins again started slow. The Bruins have a bad habit of turning the ball over a lot to start games then settling down and playing much better on offense. As announcer Steve Kerr remarked to the effect that UCLA had six turnovers early in the first half and none for the rest of the half. The Bruins then went on a run that ended the game in the first half:
But for those in attendance, the game was a bore until midway through the first half, when, said UCLA forward Travis Wear, "We really stepped on the gas."
The Bruins, with many defensive stops that became easy baskets, used a 22-4 run to take a 24-10 lead 4 minutes 30 seconds before halftime.
After that, USC all but rolled over in what became UCLA's largest margin of victory in a road game against its crosstown rival since winning by 18 in 1999.
The offense was very efficient during that run. As CBH said:
"It's our execution," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. "We're getting better at getting the reads and the second and third options off of our sets. We're still not executing as well as we'd like, but we're moving definitely in the right direction. That's huge for us."
Quick notes on three players. First the player of the game may very well have been Travis Wear:
Travis Wear continued his solid play
Travis Wear led the team with 19 points and eight rebounds, marking the third consecutive game he has had 16 or more points and five or more rebounds. Wear made seven of 12 shot attempts and is shooting 19-of-28 (67.9 percent) over the last three games.
The other two players I want to briefly discuss are becoming fan favorites. One for his defense and his intensity. Actually Stover almost got too intense and had to be briefly pulled but watching Stover on Defense must be scary to other teams:
The Bruins backup center had three blocks and three rebounds but altered several shots and was an active presence in man-to-man defense, which the team has relied heavily upon during its three-game winning streak, which followed back-to-back losses to Stanford and Cal to open Pac-12 play.
"Stover's minutes in the first half, where he was changing shots, blocking shots - defensively was a huge boost," Howland said. "Stover has really played well for us. He played very well for us against Arizona and had key minutes for us against ASU."
And last is my personal favorite player Norman Powell. Norman looked spectacular just skying to grab six rebounds in the first half. He also had a solid game in my last Peter Yoon quote (who is doing a real good job covering the Bruins)
Norman Powell has emerged from his slump
Powell, UCLA's freshman guard, has been electrifying at times this season, made three of five shots, including a three-pointer and finished with seven points. It was the second consecutive solid game for Powell, who had nine points on four of nine shooting Jan. 7 against Arizona State.
Today is a day to feel good about UCLA basketball. For this feeling to last longer than a few days UCLA needs to continue to win on the road against OSU on Thursday.