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USC-UCLA REPORT

It's a dream come true for Jefferson

January 20, 2008|Ben Bolch and Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writers

Sophia Rankin had a dream, and in it her son was doing great things to help lead USC to an upset victory over UCLA.

Davon Jefferson didn't laugh when he heard about the dream Friday, or dismiss it as a mother's wishful thinking.

"I was like, 'I hope so,' " Jefferson said. "She told me I played well [in the dream], and I was like, 'Oh, well, as long as we win, that's all that matters to me.' "

Jefferson helped fulfill her mother's vision on both counts Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion during the Trojans' 72-63 victory over the fourth-ranked Bruins.

The freshman forward capped a career-high 25-point performance by scoring the game's final eight points to propel USC to its first victory over a top-five team since it defeated No. 2 Arizona on Jan. 22, 2000. Jefferson made 10 of 15 shots and had nine rebounds.

USC held a precarious 64-63 lead when Jefferson drove from the left side of the paint for a layup. He also drew contact from UCLA forward Josh Shipp and was awarded a free throw, which he made to give the Trojans a 67-63 advantage with 1 minute 7 seconds left.

After a Shipp three-point attempt rolled out, Jefferson grabbed the rebound and was hacked by Alfred Aboya, sending him back to the free-throw line. He made both attempts with 56 seconds left to extend USC's cushion to six points.

Then, following a UCLA turnover, Jefferson sealed the upset with a tomahawk dunk from the baseline, drawing a foul from Kevin Love. Jefferson made the free throw to set the final margin and send him eagerly on the way to a special exchange with his mother.

"After the win I just called her and I was like, I couldn't believe what she said was true," he said. "I was just so happy to speak to my mom. She was the first person I called."

USC assistant coach Gib Arnold, a finalist for the Pepperdine vacancy in 2006, said he had not been contacted by the school since Vance Walberg resigned earlier this week but would be receptive to an interview request. Arnold is a former Waves assistant.

UCLA center Lorenzo Mata-Real was holding an ice bag to his head after the game and said he had a massive headache. He had banged his head on the floor while taking a charge and suffered a concussion. Mata-Real played to the end but forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who took an elbow to the head at the end of the first half, played only one minute in the second. After the game, he was standing next to Aboya and asked, "Where's Alfred?"

USC's band was absent from Pauley Pavilion. It had been there when the Trojans played at Pauley the previous few years, sitting up in the third level and playing "Conquest" after games.

But not Saturday. UCLA spokesman Marc Dellins said: "We are sold out on a season basis. USC was provided the opportunity to purchase 100 tickets we hold for each Pac-10 opponent by conference rule. They bought the tickets. It was USC's choice how to use their tickets. In addition, our band will not be going to the Galen Center next month."

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

diane.pucin@latimes.com

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