There are bigger challenges ahead for UCLA. There must be.
The Bruins trampled USC, 107-73, at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, looking like a team that wants to be a Pac-12 power.
The conference opener for both teams was a stat fest for one side. Kyle Anderson had 23 points, Jordan Adams 21 and Bryce Alford 20. The Bruins shot 58%. They had a 41-35 rebounding advantage. The Bruins (12-2 overall, 1-0 in Pac-12 play) even matched their highest point total over USC (9-5, 0-1).
The outcome probably will produce a shrug across the conference. A more substantial reaction could come Thursday, when top-ranked Arizona pops in for a visit.
"That's kind of a rivalry game in conference too," Anderson said. "We have been thinking about it since we beat them three times last year. We're just going through the same things to prepare for them as we did for USC."
Coach Steve Alford spent the first few months on the job telling anyone who asked that he could handle the pressure at UCLA because he had "played before 10,000 fans" as a high school player in Indiana.
He experienced his first 10,000-plus crowd in 10 games at Pauley Pavilion with an announced attendance of 11,285 on Sunday.
However, the real pressure won't come from the turnstiles Thursday. The heat will be on to get the statement victory that has eluded the Bruins this season.
"Our offensive production has been outstanding and we're probably playing the best defensive team we have played all year," Alford said of Arizona. "They hang their hat at the defensive end. Something has got to give. We have four days to come up with a good game plan."
The Bruins had a week to prepare for USC, part of the semester break that was time well spent, Alford said.
"We did a lot of good things on break," Alford said. "We played some pretty good basketball through the break."
The prepared Bruins put it away against USC by halftime, when they led, 56-34.
"I think UCLA's ability to shoot the ball rattled us a little bit in the first half," USC Coach Andy Enfield said. "We thought they were good on film and they were even better in person."
Florida Gulf Coast reached an NCAA tournament regional semifinal last spring. It landed Enfield at USC. His first test in the USC-UCLA series came back Flunk City.
Alford too was experiencing the rivalry for the first time. Unlike Enfield, he inherited players such as Adams and Anderson.
Anderson made 10 of 14 shots, and had 12 rebounds. Adams made eight of 13 shots. Bryce Alford made six of nine shots.
"We thought they would want to run," Alford said. "We thought they liked to play fast. That's the way we like to play."
USC did have five dunks, two that were noteworthy.
Omar Oraby had the first, giving USC a 2-0 lead 1 minute 19 seconds into the game. It was the Trojans' only lead. They turned the ball over on five of their first seven possession and fell behind, 11-2.
D.J. Haley had the second "big" dunk, which cut UCLA's lead to 21-18 with 11 minutes left. The Bruins closed the half with a 35-10 run.
"When we find all our scorers, it makes the game fun," Adams said.
Anderson said that came from a freedom of expression.
"Coach always stresses, 'don't be robots,' " Anderson said. "I think this will lead into the next game."