February 18, 2017 by Max Meyer
By Max Meyer
The streak is over.
UCLA took USC to the woodshed Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion, beating up on the Trojans 102-70 to snap its four-game losing skid to its Cardinal and Gold crosstown rivals.
USC couldn’t shoot well, defend or really do much of anything else on the basketball court. Remarkably, USC was down just 10 points with 9:09 remaining in the game, before UCLA’s entire team got the Mario invincibility star and went on a 33-11run to end the game.
“I feel like we were right there the whole game,” Jordan McLaughlin said. “It was a 10-point game, all we need was 2 or 3 stops to cut it to 6, to 4, then we’re right back in it. We just couldn’t get those stops.”
Bennie Boatwright led the team with 20 points, and Chimezie Metu added 14. The sophomore big men were the only double-digit scorers. Meanwhile, UCLA’s starting five all scored at least 13 points, with Bryce Alford leading the way with 26 points on 8-15 shooting.
The 32-point defeat was USC’s worst loss of the season. The 102 points the Trojans gave up were the highest point total of the season. The Bruins shot 53.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc, up from 48.4 and 30.0 respectively in USC’s 84-76 win earlier in the season.
“Defensively, we weren’t on track tonight,” Boatwright said. “We’re going to learn from it, and we’re going to get better from it.”
“We just weren’t as active as we were last game,” Jordan McLaughlin added. “Last game, we were super active on defense, had our hands everywhere, tipped a lot of passes, created a lot of turnovers. This game, I don’t think we created as many turnovers.”
UCLA turned the ball 10 times Saturday night, and had 23 assists. Compare that to the Bruins’ 18 assists and 17 turnovers in the first matchup, and it’s clear that USC was unable to defend the ball movement nearly as effectively.
“We just weren’t as active as we were last game,” McLaughlin said. “Last game, we were super active on defense, had our hands everywhere, tipped a lot of passes, created a lot of turnovers. This game, I don’t think we created as many turnovers.”
Unfortunately for USC, the defense wasn’t the only thing that costed the team.
“We missed a lot of easy shots,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “If you try to beat UCLA by shooting 31 percent from three and 33 percent from the field, you’re just not gonna do it. When UCLA scores the basketball, you better score with them.”
With the Trojans now on a two-game losing streak, it doesn’t get any easier. USC faces Arizona on Thursday in Tucson. After this humiliating performance, it will be interesting to see how this young USC team bounces back.