The last time UCLA and USC won this many games to start a season, the college basketball world was about to lose its pebbled leather grip.
John Wooden’s Bruins, winners of four consecutive national titles, were being challenged for supremacy by Bob Boyd’s Trojans, who usually received second billing on their own campus behind the football team.
UCLA started 14-0 during the 1970-71 season and had some catching up to do after losing to Notre Dame in late January. USC won its first 16 games and supplanted its archrival as the nation’s top-ranked team, sparking curiosity across town.
“We wanted to play them because we knew they had the No. 1 spot and...