Trojans Fall Short to #6 UCLA
Friday afternoon, USC students received an email blast to wear black on Sunday. Shortly thereafter, Trojan Athletics issued a statement. To show solidarity, fans should wear black. Galen Center was black, save scattered dots of cardinal and baby blue. As it turned out, black was the perfect color to mourn the loss to its cross-town rivals. The house was full, the crowd was loud, but the Trojans were shorthanded. And it showed in the score.
Not wanting to put the blame on fatigue or lack of manpower, the Trojans (15-9, 6-6) said they played a bad game. Coach Tim Floyd gave credit to the visiting team. Said Floyd, "Give UCLA credit, they really guarded us tonight, I thought they did a great job defensively."
Whether it was defense or not, the Trojans played an atrocious ballgame, turning the ball over 22 times to UCLA's 10. O.J. Mayo, who had his worst outing of the season (four points, nine rebounds and three assists) had10 turnovers. Mayo, who injured his groin during the week, denied that was the problem. Mayo said, "I don't think my groin had anything to do with the decisions I made with the ball."
The best highlight for the Trojans was the determined play of Taj Gibson. Gibson had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Dwight Lewis also added 16 points. Mayo was held to under double figures in scoring for the first time this season. The Trojans held the Bruins to 33.9% field goal shooting.
USC was undermanned, with Gibson, Mayo, Lewis and Angelo Johnson each playing 40 minutes. Keith Wilkinson relieved Davon Jefferson, who got two early fouls, for eight minutes. No other Trojan players got on the floor. To a man, the players denied fatigue was a factor in the game.
Faces in the Crowd
As is usually the case for a big game at the Galen Center, there were 20 NBA scouts in attendance. Also seen were: Pete Carroll, Nick Holt, Matt Leinart, Ryan Kalil and Kevin Ellison. Mike Dunleavy, whose son is on the Trojans, was also in attendance.
Seen at the end of the bench and sorely missed was Daniel Hackett. Hackett is recovering from injury and said he expects to be back later in the season. In the locker room, Hackett said, "It's tough to sit on the sideline and watch. Guys were tired out there. It's tough when you play six guys. They had fresh bodies coming in every two or three minutes."
Kevin Love, left, blocks a lay-up by Southern Cal's Dwight Lewis, center, as teammate Luc Richard Mbah A Moute defends (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Dwight Lewis, center, drives between Kevin Love, left and Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Russell Westbrook, left, has the ball knocked out of his hand by O.J. Mayo (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
O.J. Mayo dunks the ball as Russell Westbrook looks on (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Taj Gibson, left, struggles to pass the ball under pressure from Alfred Aboya (12) (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
A picture says a thousand words, O.J. Mayo (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)