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Gordon says clip was accidental

January 12, 2009|Chris Foster

One of those USC-UCLA moments occurred midway through the first half Sunday night, a reminder of the volatile relationship between the two schools.

After a USC foul, the Trojans' Daniel Hackett had a few words for UCLA's Drew Gordon, though neither player was involved in the play. Gordon's response was to raise both arms and clip Hackett in the face as he walked away.

"I just turned my head and got hit in the face," Hackett said. "I don't think it was appropriate at the time."

Gordon pleaded innocence.

"I backed up to turn and like walk away, and I guess I hit him accidentally," Gordon said. "I mean I put my arms up before to show I'm not trying to do anything. . . . It was completely accidental. Hopefully the fans don't hate me for it."

Referees reviewed the tape during the timeout, but made no call.

"They said it was an inadvertent elbow," USC Coach Tim Floyd said. "I won't comment on it."

The kids are OK

This wasn't exactly UCLA's Kevin Love vs. USC's O.J. Mayo, but freshmen DeMar DeRozan and Jrue Holiday were more than capable Sunday night.

DeRozan carried USC at times in the first half, scoring 11 of his 15 points to help the Trojans rally from a 19-8 deficit. He made six of eight shots for the game and had five rebounds.

Holiday scored 13 points, including a driving left-handed layup that gave UCLA a 55-53 lead with 4 minutes 30 seconds left.

The Bruins led the rest of the way in a 64-60 victory at the Galen Center.

"The two freshmen stepped up tonight," USC's Taj Gibson said. "They wowed the crowd."

Swat team

UCLA's Darren Collison appeared to have an easy layup, cruising alone on a fastbreak. The next moment, the ball was jettisoned into the USC crowd by DeRozan.

DeRozan was called for goaltending a minute into the second half, but it was the Trojans who seemed to benefit the most from the play. They scored the next 12 points to take a 43-37 lead.

"Someone does something like that, and it shows everyone we're not going to quit on anything," Gibson said. "We were going to contest everything."

And DeRozan's thoughts while chasing Collison down?

"I felt he couldn't get an easy basket," DeRozan said.

Johnson starts

USC started Marcus Johnson at forward, replacing the 6-foot-10 Keith Wilkinson.

The 6-6 Johnson gave the Trojans a quicker lineup.

"We thought we could take advantage of the matchup with James Keefe," Floyd said.

Wilkinson, though, had a major impact. He matched his career high with nine points, seven of them coming in the first half when Gibson was on the bench with three fouls.

Times staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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