Bulletin board material an issue
Talk isn’t always cheap; sometimes it can be quite costly.
Just ask USC players, who parlayed what they felt were disrespectful comments into a 72-63 upset over then-No. 4 UCLA last month at Pauley Pavilion.
The Trojans were miffed that Bruins forward Josh Shipp had said in the days before the game that UCLA players embodied the team concept while USC players were more likely to chase scoring titles.
Freshman guard O.J. Mayo said articles had been taped in the Trojans’ locker room to serve notice of what was being said across town.
“We were like, ‘Man, they said that?’ or, ‘They’re a team because they play this way, and we play that way?’ ” Mayo said after the victory over the Bruins.
The Trojans chose not to respond through the media but instead through a flurry of layups and dunks on the way to their first victory at Pauley Pavilion since 2004.
“We kept it quiet, but we remembered those words when we played out there,” sophomore guard Daniel Hackett said. “Things were said and it affected the game because there was a little more motivation, a little more fire.”
USC players said they try to avoid riling up their opponents with pregame banter.
“We try not to say anything to disrespect any team, no matter who we play,” sophomore guard Dwight Lewis said. “We’re smart about what we say.”
But what about the Bruins? Have they stirred up any more emotion this week heading into the rematch on Sunday night at the Galen Center?
“I haven’t heard anything yet,” Lewis said. “I figure if they say something, ya’ll [will] tell us.”
Freshman forward Davon Jefferson, who scored a career-high 25 points in the first game against UCLA, said he felt confident going into the rematch even though the Trojans will be playing without Hackett, who is recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back.
“We know what they like to go to, they know what we like to go to,” Jefferson said of the Bruins. “I think we play better defense than them, and we have better big men.”
Asked whether he expected UCLA to make adjustments considering they lost the first rivalry game, Jefferson said, “I hope so. I hope they come more physical, with better play. They’re bigger than us on the inside, so I hope they at least come with some kind of strength or physicalness or something. Tell them to come with something.”
Jefferson didn’t see it in the first game?
“Nah, I didn’t see it at all,” he said. “None of them. So I hope they come with something. No excuses, no concussions, none of that.”
UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and center Lorenzo Mata-Real sat out parts of the game with concussions.
Mayo practiced Friday after sitting out Thursday because of a strained left groin but didn’t go at full speed, Coach Tim Floyd said. Mayo might rest today to let his injury heal before Sunday’s game.
USC will apparently wear black uniforms Sunday as part of a “Black out the Bruins” promotion in which fans are also encouraged to wear black.