USC, UCLA Both Win; Face Off In Pac-10 Tournament

The Trojans are getting a third shot at finally beating the Bruins. UCLA could crush USC's NCAA tournament dreams.

That is what a rivalry is all about.

And that’s what we’ll get Friday night at Staples Center, when second-seeded UCLA will take on sixth-seeded USC. UCLA is playing its best basketball of the season and wants to improve their big dance seeding. USC is just trying to keep its tournament hopes alive.

"I don't know, I really don't," USC coach Tim Floyd said when asked about his team’s tournament hopes. "Let's not forget that when we were healthy, we went to (No. 6) Oklahoma and lost by one. We're a pretty good sixth-place team. This is the first time we've been healthy since the Oklahoma game. We're a pretty good basketball team."

Pretty good may not be enough to beat UCLA, which jumped out to a 25-8 lead on Washington State and never looked back cruising to a 64-53 win. One key to the Bruins good play of late is they are finally getting some inside play from Alfred Aboya and Nikola Dragovic to match the team’s perimeter talent. Like Darren Collison led the team with 15 points, but he and the other starters got plenty of rest.

Not so much the case for USC, which had to hold off a furious charge from Cal. Taj Gibson had 21 points and 16 rebounds, while Daniel Hackett made four free throws in the last 4 seconds to help the Trojans hold on after blowing an 18-point lead.

UCLA swept the two regular season meetings between these teams, and did so handily. However, beating a team for a third time is hard — especially a desperate team that sees its NCAA hopes in the balance.

Of course, shutting down those hopes is also part of what rivalries are all about.

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