USC guard Katin Reinhardt entered the matchup with UCLA in a bit of a shooting slump, having scored just 17 points in the last three games leading up to the Crosstown Showdown. He put that behind him and locked in on something more important during the Trojans' 89-75 victory than scoring -- stopping UCLA's dangerous Bryce Alford.
Reinhardt was given the unenviable task of having to try to slow the Bruins' top perimeter threat. Alford is one of the top guards in the conference because he can knock down contested shots. What makes him tough to stop is his ability to use screens both on and off the ball to create just enough space to be able to get his shots off. There's nothing a great shooter likes more than to have just a little bit of space to work with.
One of the Trojans' top shooters, Reinhardt knows this.
Knowing and doing are two different things, but Reinhardt came out and chased Alford everywhere. With the ball, without the ball, made baskets, turnovers, inbounds...it didn't matter. Reinhardt was there.
Leading up to the game, Reinhardt studied Alford's moves and like a good football cornerback, he tried to run the receivers routes for him. Reinhardt tried to force Alford off the spots he likes. On one possession, he forced Alford to run around him out of bounds on the baseline and when he stepped back in to catch the ball, the referees called him out and gave the Trojans the ball. Incensed, UCLA head coach Steve Alford, Bryce's father, screamed at the officials and was slapped with a technical foul.
"I just studied what he does and what he did," Reinhardt said of trying to stop Bryce. "I tried to blow up a lot of the pick and rolls and make him give the ball up. The bigs did a very good job of being there as well. I think it was a big mental game for me to make sure he didn’t get off."
Alford scored just five points in the first half on 2-of-7 shooting. Reinhardt and the Trojans held him to nine points -- only the fourth time he hasn't posted double figures this year (three losses). Alford made just 4-of-13 shots and was just 1-for-6 on three-point attempts.
"Katin played very hard tonight and played very well," Enfield said. "We felt that if we could keep that energy the entire game, we’d have a chance to win. I thought Katin was a catalyst for that in the first half. I thought he was very active and then was really everywhere on defense. He did a super job."