The best thing to happen to UCLA's basketball team this season may have been its historic 67-46 loss to USC on Jan. 16 -- the Bruins' most lopsided to the Trojans since 1945, when:
Franklin Roosevelt was president; the nuclear age was still on the drawing board; John Wooden was 34.
Yet, UCLA has won four of its last five games and is in a four-way tie for first place in the Pacific 10 Conference heading into the Bruins' game against California today at Pauley Pavilion.
"That was our rival and the game was really hyped," freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt said. "We weren't ready for them at all."
The Bruins view that game as their rock-bottom moment.
"It was probably the humiliation, the low point of losing to our rivals at home and playing very poorly," Coach Ben Howland said.
UCLA has found some grit since that game. The Bruins trailed Stanford, 60-54, with eight minutes left Thursday and won. They were down, 59-56, to Washington with 1:20 left and won. Even in its loss to Oregon, UCLA was behind, 49-43, with eight minutes left and forced overtime.
"Any time you're humbled, it's a wake-up call for everybody," Howland said. "We played [USC] on Saturday and that Monday we came in and watched the tape. We didn't practice that day; it was more the mental part, understanding what we had to do and how we had to play."
-- Chris Foster