Notebook: USC falls to UCLA

USC got off to a fast start Saturday night hosting UCLA but was unable to hold on to a ten point lead in the second second half, falling 83-73 to the Bruins.

Bruins battle back
USC fell behind quickly to UCLA when it opened it's Pac-12 Conference schedule in Westwood Jan. 5, eventually falling 107-73 to the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.

The Trojans weren't going to let a blowout of that magnitude happen twice and not inside the Galen Center.

USC shot 59% from the field in the first half of action against UCLA, holding the Bruins to under 40% from the floor. The Trojans at one point took a ten-point lead in the first half.

USC guard Byron Wesley couldn't miss, making all four three point shots he took before the break to contribute to his18 first half points.

The Trojans led 41-35 at the end of the first 20 minutes.

"We played a very good first half," USC coach Andy Enfield after the game.

But a 27-5 run by UCLA out of the break put the game out of reach for the Trojans; the Bruins once up by 16 points.

"I feel really bad," Wesley said after the game. "We played really hard in the first half. The lapse of five minutes in the second half was the story of the game. We couldn't get back."

USC's energy drained as they eventually fell, 83-73 to their crosstown rival.

"UCLA outplayed us in the second half," Enfield said. "We had wide open looks and didn't connect.

"Tonight we had a chance to win the game but UCLA outplayed us. Credit goes to them."

"We didn't come out after halftime with the same sense of urgency as the first half," said guard Pe'Shon Howard. Howard finished with 14 points and seven assists in the losing effort. "We were solid most of the night except the first few possessions of the second half."

1-9 doesn't reflect
Enfield says the Trojans 1-9 Pac-12 Conference record doesn't reflect the work the Trojans have been putting in at practices and even in games.

"I'm so impressed with this team," Enfield said. "The record doesn't indicate how hard they work. We've improved on both ends of the floor."

Since beating California on Jan. 22 the Trojans have lost four straight games, two of losses coming in overtime.

"We've been very competitive," said Enfield. "We had a chance to win all our games since Cal. It's frustrating because they serve to have more wins."

"If you look at the last games lately, we've been in the games," explained Howard. "We just have to make it a 40-minute game."

Wesley on fire
It goes without saying, junior Byron Wesley is the most talented player on Enfield's roster.

The guard was on fire in the first half against UCLA, leading all scorers with 18 points powered by 4-for-4 shooting behind the three-point arc.

He finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting. Wesley had three assists and grabbed eight rebounds.

Free-throw struggles & turnover trouble
USC led UCLA 41-35 at the end of the first half despite leaving six points on the board.

The Trojans shot just 4-for-10 from the free throw line in the first half.

Turnovers once again plagued the Trojans' momentum. They committed 15 Saturday night.

"Our key is not turning the ball over," Wesley explained. "When we do, they get in traisiton and make dunks. We we turned the ball over, it was the end of for us."

Black out
Though the USC basketball team has struggled through the first half of its Pac-12 Conference schedule, Trojan fans are still making their way to the Galen Center to support first-year coach Andy Enfield's squad.

Saturday night with time to go until tipoff, the USC student section was full and each student wore a black t-shirt provided by the school for the game's ‘blackout' theme.

"It was a great atmosphere," Enfield said.

The atmosphere throughout the night was as close to a college basketball atmosphere seen at the Galen Center in the last two seasons of USC basketball.

Next up…
USC hosts Utah on Thursday Feb. 13 at 7:30 pm PT. Colorado will play at the Galen Center Sunday at 5 pm PT.

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