Senior forward Bennie Boatwright and junior forward Nick Rakocevic each scored 21 points as USC used a strong second half to pull away for an 80-67 Pac-12 victory Saturday over visiting UCLA.
Junior guard Jonah Mathews added 16 points for the Trojans (10-8, 3-2 Pac-12), who have won all three of their home games in conference play. USC ended a four-game losing streak against the Bruins.
Junior guard Prince Ali and sophomore guard Jaylen Hands each scored 15 points for the Bruins (10-8, 3-2), who have lost consecutive road games in conference play after starting 3-0 under interim head coach Murry Bartow. Former head coach Steve Alford was fired on Dec. 31.
USC proved adept at sharing the ball, recording 26 assists on 30 made field goals. UCLA had just 13 assists on 29 made field goals, while committing 20 turnovers.
USC jumped out to an early 12-point lead, their largest of the first half, at 16-4 less than five minutes in to the game. The Bruins finally got back on track behind 11 first-half points from sophomore guard Kris Wilkes and cut the deficit to one point before trailing 36-33 at halftime.
UCLA pulled even at 38 less than a minute into the second half, before the Trojans took control with a 25-4 run, including a stretch of 17 consecutive points that gave USC a 63-42 lead.
Rakocevic added 12 rebounds, earning his eighth double-double of the season, as USC won for just the fifth time in their last 13 games against UCLA. The Trojans won easily despite playing without freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr., who is suspended indefinitely for undisclosed “conduct issues.”
Wilkes finished with 13 points as the Bruins fell to 1-6 when trailing at halftime. They have lost back-to-back contests since rallying from a nine-point deficit in the final minute at Oregon last week, the only game they won when facing a deficit at the half.
UCLA, the worst free-throwing shooting team in the Pac-12, was 4-of-12 from the foul line. Freshman center Moses Brown missed all six of his attempts.
—Field Level Media