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UCLA starts fast, USC never gets started in Bruins' 75-59 win

UCLA makes eight of 10 shots in racing to a big early lead, and USC can never make it close as Bruins win at Galen Center, avenging earlier loss to Trojans.

February 24, 2013|By Diane Pucin

It was this kind of day for the USC basketball team.

When the ubiquitous "fan cam" was used for the first time at the Galen Center, the first fan shown was wearing UCLA blue and holding up a No. 1 finger.

At least we know the camera operator is honest.

The loudest, and only, ovation from the home crowd came when the Trojans' NCAA men's water polo champions were introduced. "Can they suit up and play basketball?" a fan muttered.

On an afternoon when USC was beaten badly in every part of the game, the Trojans lost to UCLA, 75-59, on Sunday.

The win pushed the Bruins (20-7, 10-4 Pac-12) to within a half-game of first place in the conference behind Oregon and Arizona, both 11-4. The Bruins play Arizona on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.

The Trojans (12-15, 7-7), who held a 15-point second-half lead at California on Feb. 17 before losing, are now seventh in the Pac-12. They face Arizona on Wednesday.

Center Dewayne Dedmon, who had said last week that scoring off a lob was his favorite play, fell down with a loud "boom" when an alley-oop was attempted. He scored only four points.

Instead, it was the Bruins who ran past, around and over the Trojans.

UCLA was ahead 7-0 before the Trojans scored a basket, and afterward USC interim Coach Bob Cantu seemed to say the game was over at that point.

"We got down 7-0 right out of the gate and from that point it was tough to battle out of that," said Cantu, whose chair collapsed as he sat down after the game.

"That's about how the night went," he said.

UCLA guard Jordan Adams agreed with Cantu. "It helped a lot," Adams said of the quick start. "We're not really a catch-up team. We wanted to come out and throw the first punch."

USC missed nine of its first 11 shots while UCLA was making eight of its first 10, and the tone had been set for good.

By halftime UCLA led, 47-26, having shot 58.6% from the field (17 for 29). And the Bruins did all this with one of their starters, forward Travis Wear, sidelined because of an injured right foot. Wear said he hoped to be back Wednesday for Arizona State, but it turned out he wasn't needed against USC.

"I thought our first half was tremendous," said UCLA Coach Ben Howland, who had only seven scholarship players at his disposal. "Overall it's a great win."

Howland also noted that freshman center Tony Parker, who had eight points and three rebounds in 17 minutes (the most he has played in a Pac-12 game), was a tremendous help in Wear's absence.

USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and senior associate athletic director J.K. McKay watched the game from the student section, and what they saw presumably would not make them inclined to remove the "interim" title and make Cantu the permanent replacement for Kevin O'Neill, who was fired last month.

USC never got closer than 11 in the second half, when the game got a little chippy, especially when the Trojans' Byron Wesley was charged with a flagrant foul against Shabazz Muhammad with 7:55 left and UCLA ahead 64-46.

A few minutes earlier, UCLA backup guard Norman Powell and USC backup center Omar Oraby had been assessed technicals for making physical contact after a play had finished.

After trailing by as many as 25, USC drew to within 12 on consecutive baskets, a J.T. Terrell three-pointer and a rebound basket from Eric Wise that made the score 66-54.

A minute later it was 68-57 after another Terrell three-pointer, and USC could have pulled to within 68-59 with 4:44 left had Wise not missed two free throws.

Terrell led the Trojans with 17 points and Dedmon had a game-high 12 rebounds, but all five UCLA starters scored in double figures, led by Adams' 20. David Wear, Travis' twin brother, had 10 points and 11 rebounds and point guard Larry Drew II had 11 points and six assists.

"I love seeing five guys in double figures," Howland said. "When we have that kind of balance, that's when we have our best games."

Trojans point guard Jio Fontan only had four points on two-for-11 shooting and committed five turnovers. His quickest move of the night was leaving Galen before reporters could find him.

"Jio, the shots just didn't go down for him," Cantu said.

Terrell, who was four for eight from beyond the three-point line, said his team's 17 turnovers and lazy defense were the chief problems.

"UCLA did a great job of knocking down shots," Terrell said. "We didn't do as well as we usually do on the defensive end. And we had a lot of unforced turnovers. I think we gave the game away."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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