USC basketball (21-6) failed in their bid to win a fifth-straight against UCLA, succumbing to the potent Bruin offense in a 102-70 blowout.
The lowdown: Bennie Boatwright opened the scoring with a three-pointer on USC’s first possession, and knocked down a second a couple minutes later as the Trojans and Bruins traded baskets.
Deadlocked at 14 at the 12-minute mark, Shaqquan Aaron hit a triple to put the Trojans ahead after a pair of strong defensive possessions.
Jordan McLaughlin’s steal and layup put USC up 21-16, their largest lead halfway through the period. However, UCLA’s Isaac Hamilton helped the Bruins storm back to tie it at 23-23.
Elijah Stewart gave USC back the lead with a three-pointer but Bryce Alford responded immediately with one of his own as UCLA continued to push with a 17-3 run, drawing ahead 35-26 with under five to go in the half.
Jonah Mathews drove to the basket for a layup to stop the bleeding but Boatwright’s foul on T.J. Leaf’s dunk followed by a three-pointer from Leaf put the Bruins up 41-30 as the two-minute mark approached.
Despite a pair of Chimezie Metu dunks to keep the deficit from growing, Lonzo Ball dropped a three-pointer as the half ended. USC trailed at the half 46-34.
The Trojans drew back within single digits as Jordan McLaughlin hit a fastbreak layup plus a foul shot. Unfortunately for Andy Enfield and company, UCLA’s hot shooting continued and the lead quickly shifted back after a Thomas Welsh putback slam.
Stewart’s dunk gave USC life after four minutes gone, making it a 56-46 game. Again, the Bruins pushed back though, with a Leaf triple making the deficit 15 soon enough.
Boatwright swirled in a pair of threes to keep USC in it, while Metu’s free throw shots put the Trojans within nine points for the first time in the second half.
Despite USC’s attempts to keep it close, eight unanswered points, including a Bryce Alford triple and a three-point play, gave UCLA their largest lead of the game at 18 with six minutes to go.
It only got worse for the Trojans as a technical foul called against Enfield helped the Bruins grow the deficit to 24. Another flurry of Bruin scoring made it 96-66.
The game ended with UCLA taking the victory 102-70.
The takeaway: The Trojans took advantage of a sloppy UCLA performance at the Galen Center, but the Bruins were on their game at Pauley Pavilion, knocking down 53.8 percent of their shots en route to the big victory.
USC’s own shooting wasn’t enough to keep pace at a 33.8 percent clip, while poor rebounding didn’t help matters either. UCLA outrebounded the Trojans 38-49.
The loss is the Trojans’ second in a row, having fallen to Oregon last week. And with another tough match up at Arizona next week, USC’s bid for the NCAA tournament could be in jeopardy thanks to the loss.
Stat of the game: This was the first time in 709 days UCLA beat USC in either football or basketball.
Next on tap: USC’s road doesn’t get any easier. The Trojans travel to Arizona to take on the highly-ranked Wildcats on Thursday.