It is unlikely that former USC coach Bob Boyd knew back in 1967 that his decision to stall against UCLA and Lew Alcindor would be so memorable.
In football, the cross-town rivals seem to have remarkable games almost annually, but momentous basketball games--either in terms of the games themselves or their impact on the programs--are scarce in comparison. UCLA’s 40-35 overtime victory on March 6, 1967, is one that stands out in the series, which UCLA leads, 110-92.
UCLA fans spit on Boyd, who was in his first season as coach, as he stood in front of the USC bench at the Sports Arena. He was escorted off the floor after the game by seven police officers, guarding him from the many angry fans among 14,417 who watched USC stall after falling behind, 7-2, 1:08 into the game. USC went 8:30 without shooting on one possession in the second half.
Boyd’s plan almost worked, and he threatened to use it again at Pauley Pavilion to end the season. “Yes, we’ll do it next time. And we’ll do it better,” he said.
USC didn’t and lost a mostly forgettable game to the Alcindor-led Bruins, 83-55.
As USC and UCLA prepare to renew the rivalry tonight at Pauley Pavilion, here’s a look at some of the other games that stand out in the series.
MARCH 5, 1943
In what might seem strange to younger UCLA fans, the Bruins hadn’t defeated USC in 11 years, a span of 42 consecutive games.
UCLA’s Don Barksdale was the hero, scoring 18 points in a 42-37 victory. Barksdale was a somewhat of ringer, having transferred from a junior college after USC had defeated the Bruins twice earlier in the season.
MARCH 1, 1954
One writer called USC’s successful sweep of UCLA on consecutive nights “the greatest reversal of form since Christine visited Denmark.”
A “one-handed push shot” by Chet Carr at the buzzer from 10 feet away gave the Trojans a 69-67 victory in the second game, which moved the Trojans past the Bruins for the Southern Division title.
USC advanced to the Final Four, but lost to Bradley, 74-72.
FEB. 6, 1971
USC was ranked No. 1 and had won 16 in a row, assuming the top ranking a week earlier after UCLA lost to Notre Dame.
Attending basketball games became in vogue at USC, and 15,307 showed at the Sports Arena. Then Trojan athletic director Jess Hill said: “I’d say we could have sold between 50,000 to 100,000 tickets.”
USC, behind a sterling game from Mo Layton (23 points), led, 59-50, in the second half but scored only one point in the final 9:30 and lost, 64-60.
The second meeting that season was even more hyped, and at a news conference days before the game, John Wooden and Boyd, whose team had defeated the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion the year before, read poems. Boyd’s was particularly corny:
To dream the impossible dream,
To beat the unbeatable foe;
All that I ask, God in heaven,
Against UCLA--two in a row!
Despite Boyd’s poetic plea, the Trojans lost, 73-62, and UCLA earned the one Pac-8 NCAA bid and eventually won the national championship.
MARCH 1, 1985
In the last season USC won a conference title, the Trojans traveled to Pauley Pavilion, knowing it had been 43 years since they had swept a season series from the Bruins.
It wasn’t until the end of the fourth overtime that USC fans were able to rush the court, brooms in hand.
Charlie Simpson scored on a layup with two seconds left, after UCLA’s Dave Immel missed two free throws, and the Trojans won, 80-78.
“I told our team before the game that was the most important game at USC in 25 years,” said Stan Morrison, now the coach at San Jose State. “Nobody deserved to lose. There were so many tired kids on the floor.”