It was a rest stop for the Bruins on their journey through the arduous conference schedule, their only week with one game. So their coach, Ben Howland, gave them three days off, allowing the injured to heal and the fatigued to rest.
But looking back after Sunday’s loss to USC, UCLA freshman guard Darren Collison says it might have been too much of a good thing.
“I think, as a team, we got complacent,” Collison said. “We didn’t play as hard in practice because we were trying to stay away from more injuries, trying to rest up. Then, after Cal lost Saturday,” to Arizona State, “we were happy to be playing SC because we had a chance to be in first place in the conference. But it backfired on us.
“This was definitely a wake-up call. We had a sense of urgency at the end of the game, [when the Bruins cut an 11-point USC lead with under two minutes to play to three], but we needed that urgency at the start of the game. The main thing is, we need to get back in the gym and work hard.”
In UCLA’s previous game, a loss to the Washington Huskies, Bruin senior center Ryan Hollins had one of his best games of the season, scoring seven points and pulling down nine rebounds in 17 minutes before fouling out. He was three for three from the floor.
Sunday, Hollins missed his three shots, going scoreless in 22 minutes with four rebounds, two on the offensive end. What was the difference?
“I probably could have applied myself more,” Hollins said. “I could have gotten more offensive rebounds, set more screens. Maybe my timing was bad. I had an off night.
“But a big man is only as good as his guards. If I don’t get offensive rebounds, I am looking for them to get me the ball.”
The Bruins’ 133rd game in the Sports Arena was their last there unless the building is used for a future tournament. USC will move into the new Galen Center next season. UCLA played USC in the arena’s first game, facing the Trojans on Dec. 1, 1959. USC won the freshman game, but UCLA won the varsity match that followed.
“The last game UCLA will ever play in the Sports Arena is an L,” said Howland, referring to the loss.
“This is my last hurrah in this building,” Bruin fifth-year senior Cedric Bozeman said. “I wish it could have ended with a win.”
Although he is a freshman, Collison was playing his second game in the building. His high-school team, Etiwanda, played Fairfax at the Sports Arena. Collison lost that one as well.
The defeat was a rare blemish on UCLA’s sterling record at the Sports Arena. The Bruins won national titles in the building in 1968 and 1972 and finished with a winning percentage of .789 after going 105-28 there.
UCLA posted a 43-19 record at the facility against the Trojans, who shared the building with their cross-town rivals from 1959-65. USC will play its final two games at the Sports Arena this week, against Oregon and Oregon State.
A second USC signee’s season ended prematurely because of injury when Dwight Lewis suffered a sprained ankle last week. Lewis, a 6-foot-5 swingman from Katy (Texas) High, could only watch from the bench Friday as his team suffered a season-ending 48-47 overtime loss.
Kasey Cunningham, a 6-7 forward from Albuquerque Cibola High, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament last month. He recently underwent successful surgery and is expected to be able to play again in about four months.
USC improved to 12-0 when leading at halftime and 8-2 when wearing its yellow uniforms.... Trojan center Abdoulaye N’diaye’s four blocks tied a career high.
UP NEXT FOR UCLA
Thursday vs. Oregon State, 7:30 p.m., Pauley Pavilion, FSN West 2 -- UCLA won the first meeting between these two teams this season, 63-54, behind Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s 14 points and Arron Afflalo’s 10 rebounds.
UP NEXT FOR USC
Thursday vs. Oregon, 7:30 p.m., Sports Arena -- The Trojans seem to match up well with the guard-oriented Ducks, whom they defeated, 84-78, last month in Eugene, Ore.