USC Shocks UCLA At Pauley In Overtime, 75-71
As UCLA did to USC during football season, the Trojan basketball team shocked the Bruins on their home court in overtime, 75-71.
The Trojans led for most of the game - at one point, USC boasted a 15-point lead over their opponents. But a furious UCLA comeback late in the second half, highlighted by a 21-8 scoring run, took the contest into the extra period.
The Bruins took a one-point lead late in overtime, but the resilient Trojans took it back with a Byron Wesley jumper, a defensive stop, and then a grinding offensive possession by Eric Wise, who rebounded his own missed shot, forcing the Bruins to foul.
Bob Cantu said that "the game plan was to run everything through Wise." And he certainly didn't disappoint. Wise had the most impressive stat line of the night, earning a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 41 minutes of play.
Following a Bruin foul with 11 seconds left in overtime, Ari Stewart drained two free throws to salt the game away, "his first two of the season," Cantu noted.
It was a total team effort by USC tonight. Coming off a tough loss at Arizona where Cantu said the team "was emotionally spent," every player came to play, an effort rewarded with many double-digit scoring nights for the Trojans. Jio Fontan (15), Wise (12), J.T. Terrell (10), and Wesley (10) all had superb nights from the field.
"Our offense is growing and getting better," Cantu said. "We are sharing the basketball well. Plus, we have great depth and we're going to use it."
Freshman guard Chass Bryan poignantly explained, "We are just playing as a team at the right time; counting on each other and trusting each other so it is really coming together."
USC had a dominant first half, all thanks in part to Aaron Fuller, the sparkplug of the evening, who dropped 13 quick points going 5-5 from the field. Fuller was averaging 3.5 points per game before the UCLA contest, and had seen a combined 23 minutes of game time during the Trojans' week in Arizona. Tonight, he finished with 15 points and six rebounds in just 23 minutes of play.
Highly touted, but flu-stricken Shabazz Muhammed of UCLA came out as cold as his body temperature in the first half. Save for a breakaway dunk, Shabazz missed every shot he took in the first half. His presence was sorely missed from behind the arc as the Bruins were 0-for-7 in the first half.
But Muhammed was a man determined in the second, sparking the struggling Bruin offense with 17 points. Muhammed cut the once-double digit lead down to four with a corner three with just under four minutes to go in the game, sending Pauley into a mild hysteria. However, Muhammed missed two big threes in overtime, still finishing with a game-high 22 points.
Muhammed wasn't the only one battling the flu. Dewayne Dedmon had a bad, bad case of it today.
"Dedmon barely got of bed this morning," Cantu explained. "But there was no way he was allowing himself not to play."
Dedmon did get into foul trouble early, but played his best ball on defense when he was in, finishing with two big blocks.
Fontan also fell into bad foul trouble tonight, coming down with four fouls early in the second half. He was pulled half way through the second, but returned to the fray with six minutes to go, hitting a big three in overtime and igniting fire under the lost Trojan offense.
"We gambled with Jio," Cantu admitted. "But we needed his presence, and when we put him back him, he played smart."
For UCLA, Travis Wear, in his first game back from a concussion, played promisingly, dropping 16 points and five boards. Jordan Adams also came up clutch late tonight, scoring 13 points.
Larry Drew II had a cold night from the field going 3-for-11 with just eight points. One of those eleven shots was a last second heave in the second half that just hit the backboard and the rim, but could't find its way through the net.
USC improves to 4-5 in the Pac-12 and 9-13 overall; the Trojans will next play Washington St. at home on 2/7. UCLA falls to 6-3 in the conference and 16-6 overall; the Bruins' next opponent is Washington at home on the same date.
Note : It being a special occasion for both clubs, the Trojans and the Bruins ditched their normal - and in UCLA's case, traditionally epic - unis for colorful alternates. The Trojans sported a black kit with bright yellow, or gold, socks and kicks. Unlike their typical black road uniform, the "Trojans" was replaced with the Trojan logo typically found on Matt Barkley's helmet. UCLA dressed in all powder blue, but with navy blue lettering, outlined by the typical UCLA yellow.