Jefferson and Mayo Lead Trojans to Victory over Bruins
A Season Defining Turning Point
In a team defining moment, the Trojans defeated the cross-town rival Bruins. A very young USC team found themselves in the middle of a tough game at Pauley Pavilion and consequently found their team heart. Throughout this young season, the Trojans have looked like a team looking for direction. They seemed to have found that direction against the UCLA Bruins, in a gut-check win against the fourth ranked team in the country.
Davon Jefferson led the Trojans to an upset win over #4 UCLA - AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
The Trojans have played defense well over the start of the season, but have at times appeared at a loss for a team identity. USC continued their tough defense, limiting the Bruins to 33% field goal shooting and just 63 points. At times USC had Taj Gibson or Davon Jefferson on Bruin star, Kevin Love and changed defenses from man-to-man to a triangle and two.
A Team Win
Spear-headed by Davon Jefferson's coming-of-age game (10-15, 25 points and nine rebounds), the Trojans played team basketball and over-came the older, more experienced and talented Bruins. O.J. Mayo contributed 16 points (14 in the second half). Taj Gibson played well under the boards, with nine points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals.
Dwight Lewis had 11 points and five rebounds. Daniel Hackett contributed six points, five rebounds and eight assists. But what stood out for the Trojans is that they shared the offense and allowed the man with the hot-hand to take over at different points in the game.
Defensively, the Trojans held Kevin Love to 18 points on a woeful 6-15 shooting. Josh Shipp kept the Bruins in the game with 21 points (7-13); Darren Collison had 11 (4-11). The Bruins had a lot of second chance shots, frequently having three or four shots on offensive rebounding.
Signs of Things to Come
While USC has played great defense all season, today's game marked the first time the team played a whole game, with determination and purpose. A characteristic of last year's team who played hard and determined, the 2007-2008 Trojans finally showed some of those characteristics in this game.
Selfless, team-oriented basketball for a full game. This is probably the first game this season where the team played the whole game in-synch. This bodes well for the rest of the season if the Trojans can recapture the team concept the rest of the way.
Dwight Lewis celebrates with Davon Jefferson as Trojans win - AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
Notes and Quotes
USC was an 11-point underdog against the fourth #4 team they played this season. They left Pauley with a 9-point victory.
Coach Tim Floyd commented on the victory, "We got some stops, secured the ball. Dwight Lewis played big to close out (the first half); we got big points Davon Jefferson down the stretch. About the team play, he said, "The guys shared it, got back on defense, played tough defensively."
Davon Jefferson, who keyed the Trojan victory said, "We prepared well all week, we prepared well." He continued, "Everybody played well today, the USC family gave us great support all week. It's our rivalry game so we came ready to play.
O.J. Mayo commented, "We played really well in the first half, I had two points in the first half and we were only down one, so we felt we had a chance. It makes me feel good because I have a tremendous respect for my teammates and we push each other in practice."
About the defensive game, Mayo said, "Coach preaches defense will always keep us in games." Commenting on Davon Jefferson, Mayo said, "On the defensive end, he was guarding Love, he did a great job tonight."
Finally, Mayo said, "This is just one game, a big game, but we need to get back to the PAC-10."
Next up: The Trojans take on Oregon State at Corvallis, Thursday January 24, 5:30 p.m. PST, Prime Ticket.