Trojans forward Dewayne Dedmon elevates between Bruins forwards Tony… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
This is always a moment lurking when UCLA and USC play.
With the Bruins comfortably ahead and the Trojans uncomfortably frustrated Sunday, UCLA’s Norman Powell and USC’s Omar Oraby got tangled up, both clutching the basketball. The moment extended beyond the whistle.
Oraby made an alpha-dog play, trying to use his 7-foot-2 body to intimidate Powell. And Powell replied with a newspaper-on-the-nose shove.
Referees gave each a technical foul. The situation cooled, but it did not seem to be forgiven or forgotten. Five minutes later, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad had a open layup on a fastbreak. Byron Wesley raced over and clobbered him, getting a flagrant foul.
A media timeout allowed tempers to cool.
“Coach told us to stay calm,” freshman guard Jordan Adams said. “He didn’t want any of us missing any further games. He wanted us to let the officials do their work.”
The Bruins certainly had a lot more to lose in a fight. They are scrapping for the Pac-12 title, sitting a half game behind first place Arizona and Oregon. The only thing the Trojans had to lose was another game.
But it was a dicey situation for UCLA, which has a thin eight-man rotation.
Game officials reviewed the first incident, but determined Powell did not throw a punch. Still, Powell got a long stint on the bench to simmer down.
“I didn’t see the replay on what happened with Norman,” Coach Ben Howland said. “I thought that the right call was a double technical. Maybe I kept Norman out longer than I should have.”
Caution was Howland’s intent.
“I explain to our guys that we can’t afford that,” Howland said. “There is too much riding on these games for someone to respond to someone else doing something they shouldn’t be doing.”
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