USC's Maurice Jones, left, tries to pass between UCLA's David,… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
UCLA shook off a woeful first half to advance in the Pacific Life Pac-12 tournament with a 55-40 victory over USC on Wednesday.
Lazeric Jones scored 15 points and Travis Wear had 12 for UCLA. Byron Wesley finished with 13 for USC.
The Bruins will play Arizona at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday.
UCLA went on a 17-4 run to start the second half to put away a USC team that has been through a injury-marred season. The Trojans have only six scholarship players healthy, but it was the Bruins who looked unfamiliar with playing basketball on the college level.
Compounding UCLA’s problems was the mysterious absence of center Joshua Smith in the first half. A UCLA official said it was “a coach’s decision.” Smith entered the game with 16 minutes left and picked up three fouls in less than four minutes.
By then, the Bruins had regained some control, building a 14-point lead.
The two teams combined to miss the first 11 shots of the game. But USC wasn’t the team that appeared overmatched.
UCLA’s David Wear missed a dunk. Guard Lazeric Jones shot an airball on a free throw and later had an airball on a layup.
The Trojans led, 19-11, before UCLA closed the half with a 11-2 run.
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