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USC's game with UCLA on Sunday is a matter of perspective

Optimists and pessimists alike can size up the second men's basketball matchup of the season between the schools. The Trojans won the first game.

February 19, 2013|By Diane Pucin
  • Jio Fontan and the Trojans defeated UCLA in their first meeting this season at Pauley Pavillion, 75-71. USC welcomes the Bruins into the Galen Center on Sunday.
Jio Fontan and the Trojans defeated UCLA in their first meeting this season… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

If you want to see the glass as half full, well then USC will be going into its 12:30 p.m. Sunday game against UCLA at the Galen Center having already beaten the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion and having won four of its last five games.

If you're into seeing the glass as half empty, the Trojans (12-14, 7-6 in Pac-12 Conference) blew a chance to take a a five-game winning streak into the game. After hanging on to beat Stanford at Palo Alto on Thursday, USC was on the verge of a Northern California sweep until California's Bears closed out Sunday's game on a 25-7 run.

Interim Coach Bob Cantu's assessment of the last 15 minutes?

"They made some very big shots, we didn't get shots when we needed them," he said.

As for that Jan. 30 victory over UCLA (19-7, 9-4), Cantu said his team took good care of the basketball and played well in the open court.

"We pushed the ball, which was great, and for the most part did a good job on Shabazz [Muhammad, UCLA's top scorer]," Cantu said. "We're going to have to do that again, take care of the basketball and do a good job of defending their perimeter players."

Injury report

Other than Ari Stewart being out because of a broken thumb, USC is fairly healthy. Point guard Jio Fontan bruised a knee last week, but the injury didn't slow him down in USC's loss to Cal and he is expected to start against UCLA.

Rim shots

The Trojans have scored 68 points or more in eight of their last 10 games. ... USC's strength of schedule is ranked No. 1 in the nation by the Basketball Power Index and No. 4 by the Sagarin ratings. But since the Trojans have so many losses, their schedule won't help them win an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. USC would have to win the Pac-12 tournament.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

Twitter: @mepucin

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