Boogie Ellis and USC make their NCAA tournament case in furious comeback over UCLA
There wouldn’t be many more shots like this. For USC, a team just rounding into form, opportunities to state its case to the NCAA tournament selection committee were so sparse from here it couldn’t afford to squander any left. Least of all against its bitter rival, UCLA, one of the few Pac-12 teams capable of catching the committee’s attention.
It was with those stakes on his shoulders that Boogie Ellis stepped back from the top of the key Thursday night and let a final-minute three-pointer fly. Just a few weeks ago, when the two crosstown rivals last met, it was Ellis who unraveled down the stretch, committing an inexplicable offensive foul that turned the tide late.
This time, the Trojans point guard would be his own one-man tidal wave, sweeping away UCLA with a second-half effort that might rank among the most memorable in the recent history of the rivalry. This time, with Ellis in search of redemption and USC in search of a statement, the furious comeback would not fall short in a 77-64 victory over UCLA.
USC closes dominant second to seal win over UCLA
UCLA had few answers to counter a dominant USC second half.
The Trojans used a mix of aggressive defense and hot shooting to erase a 37-25 halftime deficit en route to a 77-64 win over the Bruins.
After UCLA’s Tyger Campbell hit a pair of free throws with to cut USC’s lead to 58-56 with 3:11 left in the second half, Drew Peterson hit a key jumper, Kobe Johnson hit two free throws and Boogie Ellis hit a dagger three-pointer to push USC ahead 65-56 with 1:25 left in the second half.
The Bruins tried to unleash their press, but they were ultimately called for fouls that helped the Trojans extend their lead.
A Jaime Jaquez Jr. dunk was too little and too late for the Bruins.
Mick Cronin picked up a technical foul with 19.7 seconds helped the Trojans pad their final margin of victory.
Ellis led USC with 31 points, including 27 during the second half.
Jaquez paced UCLA with 15 points.
Amari Bailey gives UCLA a huge offensive lift
Amari Bailey returned from a foot injury to play against USC and has made a big impact for the Bruins.
Bailey made a layup a the 7:06 mark and added a three-pointer off a Tyger Campbell assist with 5:06 left in the second half to keep UCLA close.
USC leads 56-52 with 3:54 left in the contest and Jaime Jaquez Jr. shooting freethrows following a foul.
UCLA finally scores
UCLA went nearly four minutes without a point before David Singleton and Jaime Jaquez Jr. finally delivered hard-fought buckets and stopped the bleeding for UCLA.
Mick Cronin is fired up on the sideline as he addresses a team that has struggled to generate consistent good looks at the basket.
USC leads UCLA 52-47 with 7:55 left in the second half.
The Bruins rattled off a 14-game win streak and now could potentially drop two games in a row after falling last week at Arizona.
USC stays hot while UCLA can’t score
USC is on a 25-6 run and has hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Trojans a 50-43 win at the 10:23 mark in the second half.
Boogie Ellis has been hot from long range and has inspired his teammates to shoot with confidence.
USC is 5-of-7 from three-point range in the second half, while UCLA is 1-of-4.
USC pulls ahead
Boogie Ellis helped push USC ahead of it trailed for the past 15 minutes of play.
Ellis stole the ball and fed Reese Dixon-Waters for a transition layup.
USC has forced five UCLA turnovers and now leads 44-43 with 11:54 left in the second half.
USC can’t miss
USC is on a 13-1 run to start the second half and has sliced UCLA’s lead to one point.
While the Bruins have have missed four shots, including a pair of three-pointers, Trojans Tre White and Boogie Ellis hit a pair of three-pointers to make the score 41-40 UCLA with 14:16 left in the second half.
USC opens second half on 9-4 run
USC has trimmed UCLA’s lead to open the second half, mounting a 9-4 run.
Drew Peterson scored five points to pace the Trojans, while UCLA struggled from long range.
UCLA leads 41-34 with 15:32 remaining in the second half.
UCLA surges late in the first half to take 12-point lead
🏀 UCLA 37, USC 25 — HALFTIME
A strong first-half effort spearheaded by its dominance on the offensive boards and 12 points off turnovers gave the Bruins a 12-point lead at halftime as UCLA tries to sweep the season series and end USC’s nine-game home winning streak.
Tyger Campbell has 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers, and David Singleton scored his nine points off three-pointers. Adem Bona has six points and six rebounds.
USC started strong before going scoreless for more than seven minutes. A three-pointer by Drew Peterson broke the Bruins’ 8-0 run. USC made it a one-point game before the Bruins methodically pulled away.
UCLA out rebounded the Trojans 19-11 in the first half, taking an 8-1 advantage on the offensive boards.
Peterson leads USC with seven points.
David Singleton helping UCLA slightly pull away
🏀 UCLA 35, USC 25 — 22 seconds left in the first half
A beautiful step-back three-pointer off the transition by David Singleton helped UCLA increase its lead by 10 just ahead of halftime.
Both teams are playing tough defense, but UCLA is finding more success on the perimeter. Singleton, playing in a UCLA record 148th game tonight has three three-pointers so far. Tyger Campbell has a game-high 10 points and has been strong at short range.
Drew Peterson has seven points for the Trojans.
UCLA holds on to slim lead after USC’s scoring struggles
🏀 UCLA 25, USC 19 — 3:33 left in the first half
David Singleton hit a pair of three-pointers and Amari Bailey a fastbreak bucket off a steal to keep the Bruins ahead of their crosstown rivals late in the first half.
USC endured a scoring drought that lasted more than seven minutes until Drew Peterson made a three-pointer. Vince Iwuchukwu followed with a short-range jumper that made it a one-point game until Singleton’s second three-pointer and Bailey’s basket.
Flagrant foul on USC allows UCLA to take lead
🏀 UCLA 17, USC 14 — 7:13 left in the first half
A flagrant foul on USC’s Drew Peterson allowed Jaylen Clark to tied the game on a pair of free throws before the Bruins retook the lead on a three-pointer by Jaime Jaquez.
Peterson was called for a flagrant foul after he pulled down on Clark as he tried to score under the basket.
UCLA outrebounded USC on the offensive boards 7-1 and 15-9 overall to help fuel its 8-0 run. The Trojans, who are looking to extend their nine-game home winning streak, haven’t scored in more than five minutes.
USC looking strong early on against UCLA
🏀 USC 14, UCLA 9 — 12:20 left in the first half
USC took advantage of a 7-0 run to jump out to an early lead over the crosstown Bruins. Drew Peterson has four points and Kobe Johnson has three points for the Trojans.
After looking strong in the opening minutes, UCLA went scoreless on five consecutive possessions before a Tyger Campbell three-pointer ended a nearly four-minute scoreless stretch for the Bruins.
Adem Bona makes his presence felt early for UCLA
🏀 UCLA 6, USC 6 — 15:38 left in the first quarter
USC getting (another) taste early on of what Adem Bona brings for UCLA.
The Nigerian big man made his presence felt on the offensive boards early, grabbing three rebounds and picking up three points.
USC’s Drew Peterson has also started strong, picking up four early points.
UCLA might be 4.5-point favorites, but they haven’t beaten USC at Galen Center since 2018. David Singleton is playing in his 148th game tonight — a UCLA record.
UCLA could truly peak by getting more out of its bench
A winner of 11 consecutive games, the longest streak in the nation among major-conference teams, UCLA keeps losing one important battle.
Its backups are repeatedly getting beaten.
The Bruins’ bench players have been outscored by more than double in their five Pac-12 Conference games, the 81-39 shortfall not entirely their fault.
David Singleton, the team’s star sixth man, has started three consecutive games with freshman guard Amari Bailey sidelined by discomfort in his left foot. That move has shortened coach Mick Cronin’s rotation, particularly in tight games, leaving starters Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. to log unusually heavy minutes.
The issue was never more acute than it was last week, when USC’s backups outscored their Bruins counterparts 22-5. Reese Dixon-Waters’ 12 points in the second half matched UCLA’s total as a team before Jaylen Clark’s go-ahead three-pointer in the final seconds was followed by a Singleton free throw.
UCLA vs. USC tip off is less than an hour away
Eighth-ranked UCLA will try to start another winning streak tonight when they take on USC in the latest edition of the crosstown rivalry between the two teams. Here’s a look at some of the social media buzz going down in the hours before the contest:
Making everywhere he goes his happy place, Adem Bona is a rising star for UCLA
TEMPE, Ariz. — His Nigerian name means God’s power. His greatest gift might be spreading joy to others.
That is, of course, unless you are wearing the jersey of the other team.
During UCLA’s victory over USC this month, the Bruins big man foiled the Trojans twice in an eight-second span. First, it was stepping over to block a Kobe Johnson layup. Then it was outrunning the defense to dunk a Tyger Campbell lob.
College basketball, meet Adem Bona.
He won’t be around much longer if he keeps playing like this.
“The fans are cheering, it’s the ‘SC game and I’m hyped, our biggest rival, my first time playing them,” the 6-foot-10 freshman center said breathlessly of his favorite play from his first 2½ months as a Bruin. “I’m fired up, I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go!’ ”
Everywhere Bona goes is his happy place.
Scoring woes burn UCLA at Arizona. Here are five ways the Bruins can fix it
You can’t win them all? UCLA did just that for two dazzling months, finding a way even when it was not at its best.
The fun run finally ended Saturday. The fifth-ranked Bruins’ 58-52 loss to 11th-ranked Arizona at the McKale Center snapped a 14-game winning streak while shining an uncomfortably bright spotlight on some deficiencies.
This team lacks shooters. It’s also short on players who can create their own shot. Among those who played Saturday, only Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell fit that description, and teams are increasingly finding ways to counteract Jaquez’s moves around the basket.
The fan overreaction to one loss for a team that remains in first place in the Pac-12 Conference standings was predictable. But it was also a reminder that some fixes have been needed for a while now, even before the Bruins (17-3 overall, 8-1 Pac-12) stumbled for the first time since late November.
USC’s Vince Iwuchukwu continues to make strides in his comeback from cardiac arrest
The few glimpses were brief, but breathtaking. A put-back dunk. A pick-and-roll layin. A fierce challenge at the rim. All blips of a bright future stretched over 14 minutes of a blowout win in Tempe.
Vince Iwuchukwu was still finding his footing last Saturday, still working his way back to full strength, six months after suffering cardiac arrest during a summer workout. The fact that the five-star freshman was playing at all at this point in USC’s season, given all he’d been through, was noteworthy. But by his fourth game back, as he scored 12 points off the bench against Arizona State, providing a spark on both ends of the court, the implications of the 7-footer’s arrival for USC had become abundantly clear to anyone watching. Including the rival coach across town.
“They are a different team now with Vince,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said of USC this week.
The Trojans will have the chance to prove as much Thursday, when they welcome No. 8 UCLA to Galen Center, three weeks after their last meeting at Pauley Pavilion went down to the wire. UCLA ultimately escaped that outing with a late Jaylen Clark three-pointer, extending a winning streak that grew to 14 games. USC, in the meantime, has won three of four since its furious second-half comeback fell short in the first matchup, the Trojans finally finding their stride after an uneven start to the season.
Amari Bailey available to return for No. 8 UCLA’s showdown with USC
At a time when it could use a boost, UCLA just got a little deeper, more athletic and increasingly dynamic on offense.
Amari Bailey is back.
The freshman guard who missed the last seven games with discomfort in his left foot is available to return Thursday against USC at the Galen Center, coach Mick Cronin said Wednesday.
The eighth-ranked Bruins went 6-1 in Bailey’s absence despite extended offensive lulls in several games. Bailey could compensate for several deficiencies with his superior passing and quickness. His ability to get to the basket can draw multiple defenders, giving him the option to find open teammates if he can’t find a shot to his liking.
Averaging 9.5 points and 3.3 rebounds while making 36.4% of his three-pointers, Bailey initially suffered his injury last month when Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe stepped on his foot. Bailey played in the next game, against UC Davis four days later, before aggravating the injury and missing the next month.
Betting odds and lines for UCLA vs. USC
No. 8 UCLA’s 14-game winning streak is over, but they remain one of the elite teams in the Pac-12. USC will be looking to play spoiler as the Trojans try to avenge their narrow loss to the Bruins on Jan. 5.
Despite only beating the Trojans 60-58 at Pauley Pavilion three weeks ago, UCLA opens as a 4.5-point favorite. Here’s a rundown of the latest odds and lines from VSIN.com: