There are three stories and one non-story from yesterday's crushing victory of Just SC.
But first the non-story. Just SC has now lost 11 of the 12 games to UCLA in basketball or football. Just SC has been terrible. Despite their coach's (seemingly hired mainly because his wife looks good on TV) statements that they would play fast and UCLA would play slow, UCLA not only destroyed just SC in a laugher but ran them out of the building in a 96-70 dismantling of USC.
USC, meanwhile, could do little else but let the cards fall as they may, as Coach Andy Enfield fell to 0-5 against UCLA.
Less than 24 hours after USC point guard Julian Jacobs talked of keeping UCLA out of the NCAA Tournament, USC had resuscitated its rival's inconsistent offense.
Keep trash talking trogans. Please keep Enfield as your "coach." Thank you for remaining consistently the worst team in the PAC 12.
The player smiling the most during the laugher was Isaac Hamilton. Hamilton numbers were
Hamilton was scoring every way possible. It was like he was playing against playing a game at the local Y or something. However, the game meant a lot to Hamilton:
Hamilton's first season in a UCLA uniform already had been difficult. His confidence wavered from game to game. He was too timid at times and too reckless at others. At one point in the season, he knocked down just 12 of 52 shots over six games.
But Thursday, in the midst of one of the most emotional weeks of his life, it was a different Hamilton who took the floor at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. After praying for an answer, the redshirt freshman turned in an otherworldly performance against the Trojans, one that rivaled any in the Pac-12 this season.
He hit 3-pointers from the corner and from the top of the key. He hit on floaters and coming off of pick-and-rolls. He hit so consistently and confidently from the field that when he pulled up for a corner 3 midway through the second half and airballed - the fates reminding him that, yes, he can still miss - UCLA coach Steve Alford laughed and shook his head.
There is another story that the beat writers seemed to miss here. Hamilton had this game against Just SC who allegedly tampered with his recruitment. Hamilton had this game after his grandmother died, the very sick grandmother he transferred to UCLA to be close to, at a very high cost having to sit out last season and losing a year of eligibility.
It was Hamilton's best game in a volatile first active season at UCLA. The former McDonald's All-American, who sat out last season after transferring, has disappeared at times.
Then, on Sunday, Hamilton's grandmother died. They were close. Every off day, Hamilton said, he would try to visit her, and he talked with her Saturday. The next day, his sister called him before practice with the news.
Before the game Thursday, Hamilton said a prayer for her.
"I hope she's proud," he said.
Great job, Isaac. I am sure she is.
Two years ago, UCLA beat Arizona in the PAC 12 tournament but lost Jordan Adams to an injury. Yesterday afternoon. UCLA did not need the injured Kevon Looney but they certainly will in their next game. As of my writing his status has not been announced.
After leaving midway through UCLA's quarterfinal win over USC with a facial injury and a deep bruise visible under his left eye, dynamic freshman Kevon Looney's status for Friday's matchup with Arizona remains uncertain.
Looney left midway through the first half, after sustaining a cut under his eye. After halftime, he was taken for a CT scan, but the results of that test have not yet been made available.
Missing the game could also mean that Looney's UCLA career is over. The freshman is almost certain to leave after this season, given his status as a surefire Lottery pick.
If Kevon plays it may be with a mask. A tough adjustment without even any practice time. We hope Kevon is okay.
Beating Just SC is like watching a dunking contest. It is fun but really does not mean that much. Just SC did not help our NCAA tournament resume at all. (Beating ASU might have a bit.) Thus it seems like UCLA has to beat Arizona tonight to make the tournament. They need to go against one of the best defensive and rebounding teams without Kevon Looney.
UCLA (20-12) is ranked 50th in the Ratings Percentage Index, and most experts predict it needs a win over Arizona to make the NCAA tournament. The Bruins have played the toughest schedule in the Pac-12, but they have just one signature win, over Utah, No. 17 in RPI. A win over No. 7 Arizona would be their best of the season.
If UCLA misses the NCAA tournament it will not be because of the loss of Kevon Looney. It will be because of the losses to ASU, Colorado, UC Berkeley, etc. If UCLA did not have so many UGLY losses on its record this game would be for seeding. Right now it is about the chance to dance. The odds don't look good.