No. 21 USC upsets No. 12 UCLA for fifth consecutive win over Bruins

USC guard Drew Peterson, right, blocks a shot by UCLA guard Johnny Juzang.
USC’s Drew Peterson, right, blocks a shot by UCLA’s Johnny Juzang at Galen Center on Saturday night. Peterson had five blocks in addition to 27 points and 12 rebounds in the Trojans’ 67-64 win.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

This time there would be no late heartbreak, no final turn of the knife, no stunning buzzer-beater to remember (or forget). There was no Tahj Eaddy in the corner for three or Jonah Mathews step-back at the top of the key. There would be no one moment that would haunt UCLA — or play on forever in highlight reels for USC.

This time it was UCLA’s Tyger Campbell who had the ball in his hands late, down three with a chance for a stunning shot in the final seconds.

This time, as a sold-out Galen Center crowd held its breath, the buzzer-beater clanked off the back of the iron — and USC still won a stunner, taking down No. 12 UCLA 67-64 for its biggest victory of the season.

For No. 21 USC, the win, its fifth straight over UCLA, was meaningful on multiple fronts. It was the first for the Trojans over a ranked opponent this season, a major moment for a team that to this point had little else bolstering its NCAA tournament resume. USC also drew within 2½ games of Pac-12 leader Arizona, while all but eliminating its rival from the conference race.


It was a major mile marker for a program still working to establish itself as a Pac-12 power.

“This was an incredible win,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Without our best player on the court, in front of a packed house, this was a big-time win for us and a very, very important win because of what it means to our basketball program.”

That program has, for most of its existence, been left to chase its crosstown rival. The last time USC won five straight over UCLA, John Wooden was coaching at South Bend Central High School, a legendary college career still ahead of him.

USC has won all four meetings with UCLA since Mick Cronin took over as coach of the Bruins. The UCLA players are well aware of the drought.

Feb. 11, 2022

The Trojans had won 42 in a row over their rivals to that point in 1943, but as Wooden took over a few years later, the next 79 years would pass by with USC unable to reach five consecutive wins over its rival.

Over those eight decades, there can’t have been many performances as gutsy as Drew Peterson’s on Saturday. The streaky senior had struggled over USC’s last four, shooting eight for 31.

But as the Trojans trudged on without their leading scorer, Peterson stepped into the void and more than filled Isaiah Mobley’s shoes. He scored 27 points and added 12 rebounds, five blocks and four assists as he dominated UCLA on both ends.


“He did everything tonight,” Enfield said. “He looked like a superstar out there. He was so good.”

“Obviously,” Peterson added with a grin, “I’ve got my confidence back and a little bit of swagger.”

USC's Drew Peterson shoots over UCLA's Johnny Juzang on Feb. 12, 2022.
The Trojans’ Drew Peterson, who made four three-pointers, shoots over the Bruins’ Johnny Juzang.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

For the Bruins, swagger was in short supply Saturday. It was a poor shooting performance that ultimately did them in. With USC’s stingy defense bearing down, UCLA shot a meager 30% — and 25% in the second half.

Campbell led the way for the Bruins, in spite of that final miss, scoring a season-high 27 while the rest of UCLA’s offense spent most of the night struggling to find a bucket against USC’s intensifying defense.

Still, Campbell had two chances to tie late, first coughing up a possession, then missing the final buzzer-beater attempt, when a Hail Mary inbounds pass from USC nearly ended in disaster.


The 30 seconds ahead of that final, desperate attempt seemed to beckon for a UCLA miracle. A breakaway dunk attempt for USC ended in a technical foul call when Max Agbonkpolo hung on the rim, giving UCLA a free throw and possession that left Enfield incensed.

With USC’s lead down to just three, an inbounds pass from freshman Harrison Hornery went awry, leaving Campbell with the ball in the corner. He left his feet, only to decide mid-shot that he wanted to pass. Freshman Reese Dixon-Waters was waiting, his deflection leading to another breakaway from Agbonkpolo.

But UCLA still wasn’t done, as another inbound pass — this time with just two seconds remaining — fell into the wrong hands.

UCLA's Tyger Campbell drives to the basket against USC's Boogie Ellis during the first half.
UCLA’s Tyger Campbell drives to the basket against USC’s Boogie Ellis. Campbell, who scored 27 points, missed a late three-pointer that could have tied the score.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Campbell scooped up the loose ball and threw up a prayer.

“I’m never letting Chevez [Goodwin] inbound the ball at the end of a game again,” Enfield quipped after.

Peterson said he thought Campbell’s shot was going in at first. Seconds later, he was bombarded by USC students rushing the court in jubilation, a scene neither he nor USC will soon forget.


“It was crazy,” Peterson said. “I’ve never been in one of those situations. You could just feel all the energy.”

To the final buzzer, the game had played out with an intensity similar to its buzzer-beating predecessors, with the two crosstown rivals trading punches.

But this time, USC was left to recreate the magic of its last four victories over UCLA without Mobley, who fractured his nose last weekend in a loss to Arizona. All signs pointed towards Mobley suiting up against the Bruins. He was fitted earlier in the week for a protective mask, and Enfield expressed confidence that he’d be in the lineup. But Enfield said after the game that concussion symptoms kept Mobley out.

A sold-out crowd was there to offer an emotional boost, making its presence known from the opening tip with bellowing chants from a jam-packed student section. When Mick Cronin left his bench after the first stoppage, the crowd showered the UCLA coach in boos.

The raucous atmosphere, coupled with a stingy Trojans defense, gave the Bruins fits to start.

As USC began to heat up from the perimeter, UCLA went cold, hitting just three of 14 during one 10-minute stretch. The slump spotted the Trojans a first-half lead that grew as large as eight before the Bruins fired their way back, cutting the lead to just two before halftime.


A scorching Campbell was UCLA’s only solace for much of the first half. The junior point guard scored 16 points, carrying the Bruins when they needed him most. While the rest of UCLA’s offense opened tentatively from the field, Campbell knocked down two key threes in the final two minutes of the half to keep USC from building an even larger lead.

Even while its top two scorers, Johnny Juzang and Jamie Jaquez, were held in check, shooting a combined six of 27, UCLA fought back to take a lead late, thanks to its prowess on the offensive boards — and its fearless point guard.

But Campbell’s final attempt to rewrite the past two years of the rivalry rimmed out. The bleachers emptied, and pandemonium ensued for a program that waited 80 years to build such a streak.