In front of a packed Pauley Pavilion in Westwood, the no. 6 UCLA Bruins entered Saturday's rivalry game against the unranked USC Trojans with revenge on their minds, and revenge is exactly what they got with a convincing 102-70 victory.
Steve Alford's team had won four straight since the shocking 84-76 defeat to the Trojans at Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 25, and Saturday’s game pushed the Bruins to their third straight win at home and fifth straight win over all. On the season, UCLA improved to 24-3 and 11-3 in conference.
Saturday's game started with the Trojans riding sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright to 10 early points and a five-point lead just past the quarter mark in the ball game. However, the Bruins managed to weather USC's early outburst.
From there, the Bruins called upon a raucous home crowd to surf to a fantastic finish to the first half and never looked back. Over the final 9:30 of the first half, the Bruins outscored the Trojans 30-13 to take a 46-34 lead, punctuated by freshman Lonzo Ball's deep three-pointer four seconds shy of the halftime break.
Ball, who is projected to be a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, entered the locker room with nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
Though the Trojans attempted to rally back and hung with the Bruins for the first 10 minutes of the second half, UCLA eventually blew the doors off the contest in an embarrassing manner. What was an 11-point contest with 10 minutes to play suddenly turned into a 20-point difference with six minutes remaining in the game.
The party was on in Westwood, as the Bruins continued to pile on.
After Ball ignited the crowd by completing an alley-oop, Bryce Alford hit a three-pointer to put the Bruins up by 30 points. At that stage, the fans began to clear out, but those who stayed behind witnessed Ball throw down another slam dunk before being substituted out. UCLA led 100-66 at that point, as the clock could not run out fast enough for the Trojans.
Ball exited the game with 15 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals. Alford finished as the game's highest scorer with 26 points and six assists. Forward Thomas Welsh collected 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Leaf finished with 19 points and eight rebounds as the other forward.
"It's special. He's a great scorer for us," UCLA Coach Alford said about his son, Bryce, after the game. "He's phenomenal."
Boatwright led the Trojans with 20 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
USC dropped to 21-6 with the defeat.
Next, UCLA heads on the road for two games in Arizona, starting with a game against the Sun Devils on Feb. 23.