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USC enjoys first visit to new Pauley with upset of UCLA

The Trojans squander a 15-point lead in the second half but prevail, 75-71 in overtime, with some extra work.

January 30, 2013|By Chris Foster

It took USC five years to get its first victory in Pauley Pavilion.

It took the Trojans one night in the renovated Pauley.

"Really, five years?" USC guard Chass Bryan said. "It's good to be 1-0 here now."

There was so much for the Trojans to celebrate after a 75-71 overtime victory Wednesday.

They had let a 15-point lead slip away in the second half, and things seemed pointed toward another disappointment in a season full of them. But at the buzzer, it was the Trojans who were dancing on the Nell and John Wooden Court, while the Bruins looked tired, or bewildered, or both.

This was UCLA's third loss in four games in Pac-12 Conference play. The Bruins (16-6, 6-3 in Pac-12) have a week off to fix things.

"We got some soul searching to do," Coach Ben Howland said.

The Bruins have a week to do it, as they do not play again until facing Washington on Feb. 7. That game, too, will be at Pauley Pavilion.

Asked if his team needed a little pride in their home court, Howland said, "that's self-explanatory. That's a basic thing. We can't expect that because we're at home that we're going to win. You got to show up and you got to be tough."

The Bruins may have bigger problems.

"We can be really, really good at times and really, really bad at times," senior guard Larry Drew II said. "We need to figure out what it is we're not doing consistently."

There was a road map for the Bruins. For the second consecutive game, the Bruins shot below 40%. They were 35% from the field in Saturday's loss to Arizona State. They shot 38% against the Trojans (9-13, 4-5).

The Bruins had Travis Wear (concussion) and Shabazz Muhammad (flu) in the lineup. Muhammad was clearly off his game, making only seven of 18 shots.

The Bruins were out-rebounded, 44-36. That included a big offensive rebound by USC's Eric Wise with 20 seconds left in overtime with USC leading by one point. UCLA was forced to foul and Ari Stewart made two free throws for a 74-71 lead. Muhammad missed a three-point shot with six seconds left.

"We're an open floor, fastbreak team, that's what we do," Drew said. "We can't do that if we can't get stops and we can't get rebounds."

USC had nothing to lose, and played like it much of the game. The Trojans' season was off the rails long ago, resulting in coach Kevin O'Neill's firing two weeks ago.

"With all that has happened the past couple weeks, we just bonded as a team," Bryan said. "We're trusting each other."

The Trojans led by as many as 15 points in the second half. Aaron Fuller had a season-high 13 points, in the first half, and finished with 15. Jio Fontan also had 15 points and Wise scored 12, 10 coming after halftime.

"When we needed a basket, we got it," USC interim Coach Bob Cantu said.

Howland saw the other side.

"We had poor defensive rotation," Howland said. He pointed out a drive and dunk by USC's T.J. Terrell.

"We just stood there watching," Howland said.

The Bruins finally did, closing regulation with a 21-8 run in the last 10 minutes. Jordan Adams hit a short baseline jumper to tie it, 65-65, with 31 seconds left.

Wise had a chance to win the game in regulation, but was called for charging with three seconds left. Drew missed 30-foot shot at the buzzer.

It was a strong comeback, but Drew said, "We have the talent to come back and overcome any obstacle. But why are we down in the first place?"

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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