The game was by no means pretty, but the UCLA Bruins will take a win any way they can get it. The Bruins dispatched their depleted crosstown rivals, the USC Trojans, 55-40 on Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the 2012 Pac-12 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center, but it wasn't that easy.
UCLA made just five of their first 24 field goal attempts (20.8%) and trailed 21-13 at one point. In addition, they went nearly six minutes without a point in the second half.
"We have to come out and play a little harder. I feel like we came out too lax, and took some bad shots at the beginning," said senior guard Lazeric Jones. "Luckily our defense was on the whole game, that really helped us."
Indeed, the Bruins recovered and scored the final nine points of the first half, and never looked back. They picked up their third win over the Trojans this year, all by double digits, an accomplishment not lost on sophomore guard Tyler Lamb.
|2012 Pac-12 Tournament First Round|
|Game 1: No. 9 OSU 69, No. 8 WSU 64|
|Game 2: No. 5 UCLA 55, No. 12 USC 40|
|Game 3: No. 7 Stanford 85, No. 10 ASU 65|
|Game 4: No. 6 Colorado 53, No. 11 Utah 41|
"It was a hard fought game. It's always tough to beat a team three times in one season," said Lamb, who scored eight points in the win.
This was the third time UCLA had faced USC in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Bruins beat the Trojans in 2008, but were upset by USC in the 2009 semifinals. The Bruins are now 16-11 all-time in the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Bruins (19-13) need one more win to reach 20 on the season, but in reality they likely need three more wins to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. That's what sophomore forward Travis Wear was thinking about after the game, saying, "We got one win. We're trying to get three more. Our goal is to keep playing."