Last place justSC visits Pauley tonight. Is there really any way the Bruins can lose this game? The Trojans are 11-18 and 3-14. Their wins came at home against Berkeley, Oregon State and Washington. They've been playing without point guard and second leading scorer Jordan McLaughlin since the Oregon game on February 11 -- he had should surgery and is out for five to six months.
They did win their last game; however, that was against lowly Washington at home who, in addition to Shawn Kemp Jr., played without Nigel Goss-Williams. If they're looking for motivation, there is that little batter of Bryce Alford writing "Mission Complete" on the whiteboard at Galen after they crushed the Trojans, 83-66, back on January 14. The Bruins had the sharp rebounding edge, 41-20, but they coughed the ball up 14 times vs. 12 for the Trojans -- Bryce turned it over five times. USC went into a zone that helped them stay in it for a half, but the Bruins broke it open at the beginning of the second half as Norman Powell went on to score 22 along with 21 from Bryce on five three's, 14 from Tony Parker on 6-7 shooting and 12 points and 10 rebounds from Kevon Looney.
Taking a quick look at the stats, the only quirk is on the defensive side. Can that be right? UCLA is rated above USC on most measures, but it happens that the Trojans have a better perimeter defense, and hold their opponents to a lower 3FG%. And then that weekend in Arizona jacked up the Bruins fouling stats mainly due to Tony Parker fouling out early and often.
Of course that wire-to-wire close shave with Washington State wasn't very comforting. Still, there's no way Bruins spoil Norman Powell's senior night. He's the PAC-12 POW for the third time this year, and has been incredible to watch -- who was the last Bruin guard to take his man off the dribble this much? Toby Bailey? More importantly, he stayed with us for four years. Actually, we want this to be his last game in Pauley. If UCLA ultimately goes to the NIT, they'll be back.