So while this has been a disappointing basketball season for UCLA, which was picked to win the Pac-12 Conference, the Bruins can look across town and feel better — and gloat.
USC pummeled UCLA, 50-0, in football, but the Bruins can bookend their 66-47 rout of the Trojans in January by beating them again at the Sports Arena on Wednesday night.
"When you sit down and write out goals for the season, beating USC twice is on everyone's list," UCLA center Joshua Smith said. "It's important."
UCLA, 14-11 overall and 7-6 in conference play, last swept USC (6-20, 1-12) in 2007. The rivalry has been lopsided in football, with USC winning 12 of the last 13 games. In basketball, the Bruins have a modest 14-12 edge since 2000.
Asked whether there is hate in the rivalry, UCLA guard Lazeric Jones said, "There should be. Coach [Ben Howland] talks about the importance of this game. I can't use the words he uses."
Jones said he experienced the emotion last season when UCLA won, 64-50, at Pauley Pavilion.
"Our fans were into the game," said Jones, a senior. "You felt the animosity. Players try to act like they ignore what the fans say, but you can hear it. You could feel hatred.
"This is my last time playing SC. I want to have the bragging rights that I got them twice this year."
USC guard Maurice Jones is not feeling the intensity.
"I'm not from California," said Jones, who is from Michigan. "It really doesn't mean that much to me as someone who's in it for a long time."
With USC struggling this season, Howland took the traditional stance of favorite, saying, "It's going to be a tough game because it is SC-UCLA. You throw out the records, throw out everything.
"The bottom line is, if SC beats us tomorrow that will really be a feather in their cap."
Not in our house
USC's plan to practice Tuesday at the Sports Arena in preparation for Wednesday night's game was nixed by UCLA and the Pac-12 Conference, forcing the Trojans to work out on their Galen Center practice court.
O'Neill had said Sunday the Trojans would take a day off and then practice Tuesday at the Sports Arena, which is serving as a home venue for UCLA during Pauley Pavilion's makeover.
UCLA called the Pac-12 office to ask for clarification about USC's privileges at the arena as a visiting team.
The practice policy outlined in the Pac-12 handbook says, "The host institution shall not provide a practice site or time to a visiting team the day/night before the first game of a two-game trip or for a one-game trip."
O'Neill said he was not aware of the rule but was not upset by having to switch.