The Bruins quiet leader had a very good game as he helped remind basketball fans it is still "just SC".
Norman Powell scored 22 points and finished his career with a 4-0 record against USC in its building, becoming the first Bruin since Toby Bailey from 1995-98 to do so.
"I couldn't ask for a better ending," UCLA's lone senior said.
While Norman has earned the right to be say something like that, I am more mixed about Bryce's statement.
After stumbling through a five-game skid over the end of last year and start of the new year, UCLA had a goal of winning three games in nine days.
Bryce Alford ran into the locker room and scribbled "mission complete" after the Bruins used a 26-6 run spanning both halves to put away host USC 83-66 on Wednesday night for the fourth straight time.
"It feels good to finally do that," said Alford, who scored 21 points.
Call me a curmudgeon, and I mean no offense Bryce but beating just SC is a start not a completion. It is nice that UCLA now has a winning record in the PAC 12 and that UCLA has won three in a row to stop the massive hemorrhaging of not only losing but losing in record fashion during the five game stretch.
Again, Norman Powell gets it.
UCLA (11-7, 3-2 in the Pac-12) has now risen above .500 in the conference for the first time this year. For the moment, the Bruins have answered growing concern over the season's direction.
"Being at UCLA, with all the tradition and the winning that goes here, people are going to be upset when we're not winning and keeping that tradition alive," guard Norman Powell said.
Thanks to Norman for doing his part. Bryce had a good game, but not one that is going to silence his critics. And again, this is Just SC.
Alford shook off his recent shooting slump, hitting five 3-pointers for 21 points - but also notching just two assists against five turnovers.. . . .
Now, USC didn't just lay down. The Bruins couldn't stop coughing the ball up, and the Trojans eventually hovered back to within single digits. The home team eventually converted UCLA's 14 turnovers into 22 points - their pesky zone defense almost nullifying the Bruins' enormous 41-20 rebounding edge.
"It bugged us," said Bryce Alford. "We've had a struggle with that all year against zone. It's something we've got to continue to work on.
"But when we're making shots and stuff, it's going to be hard to zone us. We've just got to get the ball to guys in open spots." . . .
UCLA hasn't seen many "gimme" wins over the last six weeks. This crosstown trip to USC (9-8, 1-4) was as close to it as they'd seen since before Thanksgiving. There was ebb and flow, but everyone in the arena knew which team had more talent.
Part of the reason it is a gimme and just SC for the foreseeable future is coach Andy Enfield. Enfield is clueless and a bad coach. The perfect coach for just SC. A good one from Enfield and the SC press department in a story called "USC Bullied By UCLA In Second Half, Fall 83-66":
Though the Bruins had been struggling in recent weeks offensively, Enfield pointed out that UCLA's success Wednesday night was due simply to offensive efficiency: "Well, their shots went in the basket tonight."
Wow, he is good. Please stay at Just SC for a long time.
There was a scary moment in the game where Kevon Looney was hurt. Lost in the gaudy numbers put up by the guards is the fact that the offense worked because UCLA went inside-out. While this article is generally clueless, if does bring up an interesting point on Looney, "Kevon Looney needs to be more aggressive and impact the game offensively."
By all accounts, Kevon Looney had a good game for the UCLA Bruins. UCLA's five-star freshman had 12 points on 6-11 shooting from the field, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals against the Trojans and was generally active in the game. However, his aggressiveness needs to improve.
Offensively, Looney disappears for stretches, not really doing anything with the ball once he receives it. Granted, on a team with Norman Powell and Bryce Alford handling the ball on the perimeter and Tony Parker getting a bulk of the touches the down low, he does not have to do much in regards to handling the ball.
Still, for a player of his length and skill, he should be able to pressure the defense and get to the line a couple times a game. Amazingly enough, against a softer USC interior, Looney did not reach the line once. The game before against Cal, he only attempted one free throw.
Looney does bring a more versatile game to the table for the Bruins and he does have other players around him who are more adept at getting the ball to the rim, but it would add a completely new dimension to this team if he were able to consistently get to the line and help the team get into the bonus earlier.
Yep, to win at the Oregons Kevon is going to have to do more. The guards are going to have to let him do more. However, against just SC Norman Powell is enough for four wins on the road in a row and with Enfield coaching look for many more. Enfield gets the last word.
"Our players have to get in the gym and improve their skill level. We don't have anyone like Norman Powell that can do that. We're hoping that a couple of our players can get in the gym and work on that and be like that but he's a senior. He deserves it. He's worked extremely hard. He is a terrific basketball player and he took over the game tonight in my eyes because he was so aggressive offensively in the second half. He had a very quiet first half and we couldn't stop him."
Thanks Norman. Thank you for staying and for the four wins.