Monday, January 16, 2012

UCLA owns LA, dismantles USC at Galen 66-47

Senior guard Lazeric Jones drives to the basket past USC sophomore guard Maurice Jones. Jones finished the game with 15 points. Photo Blaine Ohigashi, Daily Bruin

UCLA avenges last year's loss to USC

Published: Jan. 15, 2012 Updated: 10:39 p.m.     

LOS ANGELES – All week, UCLA guard Lazeric Jones did a slow burn over the Bruins' last trip to Galen Center.

About how UCLA embarrassed itself in an 11-point loss. How the Trojans rubbed it in by basically doing a victory lap on the court through the game's final minute. How the Bruins embarrassed themselves further when center Joshua Smith gave verbally abusive Trojan fans the finger and then ripped the officiating crew.

All of it boiled over as Jones gathered his teammates around him in a pregame huddle Sunday.

Call it his Win One for the Flipper speech.

"Remember how it looked, remember how it felt," Jones later recalled saying. "It felt terrible to walk out of here and basically disgrace Westwood like that."

The Bruins (10-7 overall, 3-2 Pac-12) returned to Westwood on Sunday night 66-47 victors over USC at Galen Center. With a third consecutive victory, they are perhaps the hottest team in a Pac-12 race from which a favorite has yet to emerge.

UCLA shot 51 percent from the field while holding the Trojans (5-13, 0-5) to 36 percent and dominated USC on the boards, 44-19, en route to the biggest Bruins victory at USC since 1999.

UCLA forward Travis Wear finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, both game highs, while twin brother David added 13 points and seven boards. Jones followed his pregame speech with a statement game: 15 points, five assists and a steal.

"This is definitely a big confidence booster," David Wear said. "Our confidence is high right now. We feel like we're moving in the right direction and we're really starting to come together."

Sunday night the rallying point was last year's humiliating loss on the same floor.
"We got embarrassed out here last year," Smith said. We had a bad taste in our mouth."

The Bruins chewed up and then spit out Trojans with a 22-4 run over the course of 11:16 in the first half that broke the game open, 24-10, with 4:30 left to until halftime.

With a 21-7 advantage on the glass and the Bruins' man-to-man pressure creating a series of fast break opportunities, UCLA shot 64 percent from the field in the first half while limiting the Trojans to 29.2 percent shooting.

"We really stepped on the gas," Travis Wear said.


Redshirt sophomore forward Travis Wear makes a slam dunk against the Trojans. Travis ended the game with a team high of 19 points. Photo Blaine Ohigashi, Daily Bruin

Jones, Bruins feel at home in USC country

Published: Jan. 15, 2012 Updated: 10:38 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – When the basketball schedule officially came out, with no home games in the 310, UCLA's Lazeric Jones had one thought.

"Now we'll have to go to USC twice," he said.

The Sports Arena game is Feb. 15, with UCLA wearing the home whites. The Galen Center game was Sunday night, on USC's court amid 8,474 witnesses.

It was as replenishing as Desert Hot Springs, without the mud pack.

The Bruins pillaged the village with a 66-47 victory, leaving USC at 0-5 in the Pac-12 and boosting themselves to 3-2. As Coach Ben Howland observed, it was UCLA's first true road victory, in front of true antagonists.

"The fans were saying they hated No. 11," Jones said, laughing. "I don't know what I did to them. But I'm part of the rivalry now.

"They were really on my back for a minute. I came to the sidelines and got stressed a little bit. They were really dogging me over here in the corner."

Maybe the USC fans were sensing that they were watching one varsity team that wouldn't score 50 on UCLA.

The Trojans had 40 with 12:20 left and, in the first half, went 11 minutes without field goals.

And maybe that's why most fans stayed put at halftime, to see a real offensive player.

Harold Miner's No. 23 jersey was retired, along John Rudometkin's and Bill Sharman's. Miner also was greeted by most of his former teammates, and spoke eloquently of the days when he was the wintertime Main Event In L.A.

"I played from two standpoints," he said. "I wanted to win, and I wanted to make sure I gave the fans their money's worth each and every game."

Miner would have thrived even more at Galen Center, where the Trojans might well have sold out the entire Pac-10 schedule for 1991-92.

There are reasons why these Trojans are so dreadful. When Nikola Vucevic goes to the NBA (and is a factor, for Philadelphia), and when Alex Stepheson and Marcus Simmons move on, and then when Jio Fontan tears up a knee in Brazil, there are not enough blowout patches to keep things rolling.

But USC's morbid offense was matched by a no-show on the boards (UCLA with 44 rebounds, USC 19), and the Bruins shot 64 percent in the first half.

UCLA is 8-2 since Dec. 3, although nobody is preparing a documentary just yet.

So what has happened since 2-5?

"We like each other," Jones said. "We're a family, looking out for each other. You can tell when guys are playing for each other."

If that sounds like a commentary on the departed Reeves Nelson, it probably is.
After Nelson was disinvited from the program, it came time to use the strengths that made UCLA one of the preseason Pac-12 favorites: the skill and size of the Wear twins, and the combined 131 games of experience that guards Jones and Jerime Anderson bring.

Except now they're playing together, with Anderson nominally the point guard.

On many possessions Jones is the one getting the Bruins into their offense, just like before, and Anderson is spotting up. Either way, Jones had 15 points, five assists and two turnovers Sunday. He leads the Bruins in scoring, free-throw attempts and assists and has been their most reliable 3-point shooter.

"The coaches wanted me to score more so they made the switch in the backcourt," Jones said. "I was cool with it.

"We know Jerime can handle the ball and he's good in tough situations. If either one of us get the ball, we can push it up, and we have guys on each side who are getting open."

Besides, Jones doesn't have a sense of entitlement.

He spent his sophomore and juniors years at Chicago's Simeon High watching and waiting for the point guard to graduate. That guy was Derrick Rose.

"Guarding him every day in practice, you learn a lot," Jones said. "I watched every move he made."

But when Jones got a chance to lead Simeon — and four other new starters — he took the club to the state finals. Then he wound up at John Logan JC for two years, getting the call from UCLA when it became clear that Jrue Holiday would become a one-and-done.

Not many Division I teams have senior leaders anymore. With so few college games left, Jones is intent on saving a season, although Howland has acknowledged that UCLA must win the Pac-12 Tournament to make the NCAAs.

"We're not even worrying about how many games we have to win," he said. "We're fighting. We're positive around each other, no matter what people might say about us. We're just trying to get as many wins as we can get."

That number is uncertain, but Jones still has one more trip downtown.


Big man on D. USC junior center James Blasczyk shoots over UCLA sophomore center Joshua Smith during the first half. Smith finished with 6 points and 5 boards.
Bruins use stellar play to shut up USC fans

Published: Jan. 15, 2012 10:54 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – At one point during UCLA's 66-47 romp over USC at Galen Center on Sunday night, Bruins guard Lazeric Jones was greeted with a chorus of barbs from the Trojans student section as he returned to the bench for a breather.

Jones didn't take the verbal abuse personally.

"We were winning, so it hurts (them)," Jones said with a shrug.

Galen Center eventually would be silenced by the most lopsided UCLA victory on a Trojans home court since 1999.

"It was quiet because we quieted them down," Bruins guard Jerime Anderson said.
The Bruins did so with a 22-4 run over the course of 11:16 in the first half that broke the game out of an ugly start.

"A grind-it-out affair," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "Finally we got something going."

With USC leading, 6-4, Jones scored on a drive launching the Bruins on their game-deciding run.

By the time Travis Wear capped a 9-0 run a few minutes later, UCLA was up, 24-10. The Trojans had barely caught their breath when the Bruins roared back with an 11-0 run to go up, 37-16, with 26 seconds left in the opening half.

UCLA shot 64 percent from the field in the opening half, while limiting the Trojans to 29.2 percent shooting. The Bruins in particular dominated inside, outrebounding USC, 21-7, and outscoring the Trojans in the paint, 20-10, in an opening 20 minutes that might have been UCLA's best half of the season.

"It's close to as well as we've played and doing it to 'SC makes it just makes it that much better," Anderson said.


Anderson's nose was red and swollen as he walked out of the Galen locker room after the game.

"It's war out there," he said.

UCLA certainly has been a more aggressive team in its current three-game winning streak.

"We've been a lot more physical, especially in the paint, the Wear twins and Josh (Smith) have really been going after it down there," Jones said. "And (Anthony) Stover has really given us some really good moments off the bench."
The Brothers Wear, Travis and David combined for 92 points and 41 rebounds during the streak, Travis finishing with 19 points and eight boards Sunday night, both game highs. Stover had three blocked shots and altered several others in 12 minutes of play off the bench.

Redshirt sophomore forward David Wear puts up a layup past Trojan freshman guard Byron Wesley. David had 13 points and 7 rebounds for the night.

UCLA commands the court against USC, 66-47


The Daily Bruin
Published January 15, 2012, 11:20 pm in Men's BasketballSports

The men’s basketball programs at both UCLA and USC have played home games in front of mostly empty arenas this season. But at the tip of Sunday’s rivalry showdown, there were few signs that either team was stuck in a proverbial down year.

The atmosphere was electric to start. UCLA quickly got to dialing some of the volume down.

By the end, loud chants of “UC-LA!” were drowning out the final buzzer as the Bruins left Galen Center with a 66-47 win, their first true road win of the season.

While the energy was sapped, there were still trademark signs of a rivalry game.

UCLA’s bench could hear the taunts from USC’s student section. Fouls were hard and bodies were hitting the floor harder. There was even time for some smack talk, which Lazeric Jones was happy to take part in.

“That’s how it’s always going to be,” said the senior guard, who had 15 points.
“I was watching previous games, and it was chippy back then. Who am I to break the rivalry?” he added with a smile.

Jones did his part in making sure the game was basically over by halftime. He capped off an 11-point first half by blowing a kiss to the vocal UCLA fans in the upper reaches of Galen Center after he hit a long two-pointer that stretched UCLA’s lead to 19.

The Bruins (10-7, 3-2 Pac-12) shot 64 percent from the field in the opening stanza, while the Trojans were held to 29 percent.

UCLA was all smiles, but USC (5-13, 0-5) was a little redder than usual.

“We embarrassed ourselves,” USC freshman guard Alexis Moore said. “We did a disservice in our effort. Give UCLA credit. They played a great game. We didn’t match their effort. With a rivalry game, you think we would come out and play much better.”

Another statistic that overwhelmingly favored the Bruins was the rebounding margin. Coach Ben Howland immediately pointed to UCLA’s 44-19 victory in the battle of the boards – the Bruins’ biggest rebounding margin since 2004 – as the key to the game.
At one point the Bruins looked like they were running a tip drill by themselves on the glass. Though USC had two players 7-feet or taller, the Trojans were helpless to grab a rebound.

“When you control boards, you control tempo,” sophomore center Joshua Smith said.
“It doesn’t matter how tall or big you are. We really don’t care. Just like they don’t care how big I am, or Stov (Anthony Stover), or the twins, you just go out there and play. Today we were just more physical.”

USC never had an answer for UCLA’s size. Smith played through foul trouble to score six points and grab five rebounds. His redshirt sophomore backup, Stover, had back-to-back emphatic blocks in one sequence in the first half. The twins – redshirt sophomore forwards David and Travis Wear – combined for 15 rebounds, eight of them on the offensive glass. Travis Wear’s 19 points led all scorers.

The win gives UCLA momentum in the form of a three-game winning streak with two more road games coming up next week. The Bruins will face the Oregon schools after finally showing they can win on the road, though in their eyes, they’ve never really felt at home on the “Bruin Road Show.”

“We’ve been on the road the whole year,” Howland said. “We’re used to it by now.”

UCLA rules the city after outing USC, 66-47

Bruins limit Trojans to 36% shooting and out-rebound them by 25 to win their third in a row. USC has lost six in a row.

By Baxter Holmes
The Los Angeles Times
10:55 PM PST, January 15, 2012

The Clippers and Lakers played Saturday night at Staples Center in a matchup some dubbed "Battle: L.A."

Just down the street a day later, UCLA and USC engaged in their own city-limits kerfuffle, but with watered-down stakes and a desert-like drought of hype or outside interest.

With each team going nowhere slowly during seasons that probably will end without a postseason tournament appearance, only bragging rights could be won.

UCLA took those, winning, 66-47, in front of a season-high 8,474 at the Galen Center.

With Gus Johnson calling the game on television, it probably sounded exciting — at least early on.

But for those in attendance, the game was a bore until midway through the first half, when, said UCLA forward Travis Wear, "We really stepped on the gas."

The Bruins, with many defensive stops that became easy baskets, used a 22-4 run to take a 24-10 lead

4 minutes 30 seconds before halftime.

After that, USC all but rolled over in what became UCLA's largest margin of victory in a road game against its crosstown rival since winning by 18 in 1999.

"That was not the way we drew it up, obviously," USC Coach Kevin O'Neill said. "They took it to us."

Or, as Trojans guard Alexis Moore said: "We embarrassed ourselves."

UCLA, 10-7 overall and 3-2 in the Pac-12 Conference, won its third consecutive game, its eighth in 10 games and its first true road game this season.

"Our guys are excited about how they're playing," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "I can't emphasize it enough: They worked really hard for this game."

USC (5-13, 0-5) extended its losing streak to six games, its longest skid since it lost seven in a row during the 2002-03 season.

The Trojans, who have lost nine of 10, remain the only team without a Pac-12 win. They also lost their first five conference games during the 2004-05 season.

With their imposing front line, the Bruins dominated the Trojans, who kept missing, both on guarded shots (they were 18 for 50 from the field) and unguarded shots (12 for 21 on free throws).

UCLA didn't let USC recover many of those misfires, out-rebounding the Trojans by 25, which tied for the largest rebounding edge ever by a Howland-coached team.

"With a rivalry game, you think we would come out and play much better," Moore said.

The Bruins showed up for it and played well, making 26 of 51 shots.

"We're really starting to click, as a team," said Wear, who had a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds. "I think we're running fewer sets, but we're really executing them well."

David Wear scored 13 points, and the twins have each scored in double figures in three consecutive games.

Although UCLA had many highlights, the only memorable moment for USC, which was led by Maurice Jones' 13 points, came when the Trojans weren't on the court.

At halftime, Harold Miner, the school's all-time leading scorer (2,048 points in three seasons), had his No.23 jersey retired.

Had he suited up for old times' sake, the 40-year-old Miner, once known as "Baby Jordan," probably could have scored a basket or two for USC.

And the Trojans would have welcomed it, because they scored fewer than 50 points for the fifth time in six games.

"We struggle to score," O'Neill said.

Except when guard Byron Wesley's alley-oop pass with 1:25 left in the second half accidentally went in.

That might have been USC's most productive play all game.

UCLA 66, USC 47: Bruins help Wear out Trojans, then seal blowout victory with a kiss

The Los Angeles Daily News
Updated: 01/15/2012 10:52:05 PM PST

Lazeric Jones insisted he was just trying to show some love to his family.

He maintained the kiss he blew to the Galen Center crowd after his second consecutive basket late in the first half of the Bruins' 66-47 win over USC on Sunday night was all love.

No hate.

The glint in his eyes said something different, and the sneaky smile that crept onto his face confirmed it.

"I feel like I'm part of the rivalry now," said Jones, who finished with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. "Every time we scored I got really excited. That's how it's going to be. That's how it's always going to be.

"I was watching games a week ago, previous games (in the rivalry), and they were chippy then. Who am I to break the rivalry?"

If Jones provided the flash in the Bruins' blowout win, the Wear twins provided the dirt.

Sophomore forward Travis Wear had 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and brother David Wear added 13 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes while battling foul trouble.

Even with center Joshua Smith limited to just six points and five rebounds in 14 minutes, the Bruins had 30 points in the lane and 12 second-chance points and made up for 14 turnovers.

"It's our execution," UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. "We're getting better at getting the reads and the second and third options off of our sets. We're still not executing as well as we'd like, but we're moving definitely in the right direction.

"That's huge for us."

So was Anthony Stover.

The Bruins' backup center had three blocks and three rebounds but altered several shots and was an active presence in man-to-man defense, which the team has relied heavily on during its three-game winning streak that followed back-to-back losses to Stanford and Cal to open Pac-12 play.

"Stover's minutes in the first half, where he was changing shots, blocking shots - defensively was a huge boost," Howland said. "Stover has really played well for us. He played very well for us against Arizona and had key minutes for us against ASU."

A year after USC's interior duo of Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stephenson dominated UCLA with a combined 33 points and 20 rebounds in a 63-52 victory, their absence was striking as the Bruins out-rebounded the Trojans 44-19.

Last season's game ended with Smith making an obscene gesture to the crowd and criticizing the referees in his post-game interview, actions that led to a reprimand from the Pac-10.

This year ended a bit different.

"It felt great," Smith said. "Zeek and (senior guard Jerime Anderson) reminded the team before we went out about what happened last year. We have a lot of new guys on the team - the twins weren't playing with us last year, Norman Powell wasn't with us yet - and we came out and said, 'It's us against the world out here; they embarrassed us last year, now let's go put it on them.' "

Added USC guard Alexis Moore: "We embarrassed ourselves. We did a disservice in our effort.

"Give UCLA credit. They played a great game, we didn't match their effort."

The teams sputtered to a horrendous start and were tied 9-9 with less than 10 minutes left in the first half. UCLA, however, took off from there with a 14-1 run over the next six minutes. By the time Jones puckered up for the crowd, the Bruins were leading 35-16 and well on their way to their biggest win at USC since 1999.

"I was just giving my family a little love," Jones said. "My parents have been on me about showing love to them when I'm on TV, so that's all I was doing. It was all love."


Five observations: UCLA 66, USC 47

LOS ANGELES--Winning on the road is always difficult in college basketball and winning a rivalry game isn't much easier, so it's no surprise the UCLA basketball team was full of smiles after accomplishing both in a 66-47 Pac-12 victory over USC Sunday night at the Galen Center.

It was the first road win of the season for UCLA, which has elevated its level of play in recent weeks and has now won eight of its last 10 games, including three in a row. The Bruins (10-7, 3-2 Pac-12) also avenged a 63-52 loss at the Galen Center from a year ago.

"Before the game we were saying that we got embarrassed out here last year so we’ve got a bad taste in our mouth and we’ve got to go out and win so that's what we did," center Joshua Smith said. "It just feels good to get a win here."

It gives the Bruins some needed confidence as they prepare to go to Oregon State and Oregon this week for a tough road trip.

"It means a lot to get a road win," Tyler Lamb said. "We try not to let that be a factor, but it always is. So for us to come out here and get this, it boosts our confidence for our road trip next week."

Five observations from the game:

1It was a special win for UCLA

Forget that USC is in a rebuilding mode and is the lone Pac-12 team without a conference victory, anytime UCLA plays USC, it means something.

It appeared early on that the game would be a dogfight as they were tied, 9-9 midway through the first half, but UCLA took control with a 26-7 run that pretty much silenced the USC home crowd.

"We lost here last year and it was really embarrassing," guard Lazeric Jones said. "That stuck with me. That was all I thought about last night and this morning. To get the win with the crowd on your back, it felt really good."

Jones, a junior college transfer from Chicago, acknowledged that he didn't quite understand the scope of the rivalry last year, but it felt much different this year.

"After losing that game here, I really felt it," he said. "I feel like I’m part of the rivalry now. Every time we scored I was excited and every time they scored, I was really mad. So I feel it now."

2The Bruins dominated the glass

UCLA simply out muscled the Trojans down low, winning the rebounding battle by a staggering 44-19. The 25-rebound margin was the largest of the Ben Howland era at UCLA and the largest since the Bruins out-rebounded Northern Arizona by 30 in 2002.

Not only that, but UCLA actually won the battle of the boards on their own end of the floor, getting 13 offensive rebounds while USC had only 11 defensive rebounds.

"Obviously the board play was huge for us," coach Ben Howland said.

Travis Wear had eight rebounds, David Wear had seven, Norman Powell had six and Jerime Anderson and Joshua Smith each had five. Powell said the team mindset coming in to the game was to dominate the glass.

"Coach hounded in on us that this was going to be the battle of the boards so we had to crash the boards hard and that’s what we were trying to do," Powell said. "We came in looking to be aggressive."

3Travis Wear continued his solid play

Travis Wear led the team with 19 points and eight rebounds, marking the third consecutive game he has had 16 or more points and five or more rebounds. Wear made seven of 12 shot attempts and is shooting 19-of-28 (67.9 percent) over the last three games.

"I’m just trying to take my time now and be more patient and just letting the game come to me and it’s been helping me," said Wear, who was averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds before his current three-game tear.

"I think running fewer sets and this pin down action we’ve been doing, it’s been easy for me to get to the rim and get easy passes from our guards and easy put backs. I'm getting used to the game now and I’m really happy with the way I’ve been playing. I think now I’m just more comfortable."

Not to be outdone, brother David Wear is also playing at a high level. He had 13 points and seven rebounds Sunday and is averaging 13 points and seven rebounds over the last four games, and the two have provided an excellent compliment to Joshua Smith inside.

"We're all starting to click a little more." Smith said. "The Wears are playing well and that helps everyone play well."

4UCLA executed its offense well

The Bruins shot 51 percent from the field, including 64 percent in the first half, getting an array of open layups and easy shots inside because of good offensive execution against an excellent defensive team. Their 66 points equaled the most allowed by USC this season.

"We’ve spent a lot more time on it than we had early in the year," Howland said. "That’s been our main focus since the Cal and Stanford games is trying to get better at the offensive end."

One of the big offensive changes was moving Jerime Anderson to the point guard full time and letting Lazeric Jones focus more on getting open and it's helped open up things all over the court as the offensive sets have become more fluid.

"Jerime is really under control and running our offense," Howland said. "Zeek [Jones] is getting good opportunities, which is why we made that move and it’s really been good for us now. There are a lot of people stepping up and playing important roles for us."

5Norman Powell has emerged from his slump

Powell, UCLA's freshman guard, has been electrifying at times this season, made three of five shots, including a three-pointer and finished with seven points. It was the second consecutive solid game for Powell, who had nine points on four of nine shooting Jan. 7 against Arizona State.

Prior to that, Powell had gone through a rough four-game stretch in which he made only four of 22 shots (31.8 percent).

"It was just getting back in the gym and getting my repetition back," Powell said. "The ball was slipping and when I would miss shots, my confidence was down. Knowing that, I had to get back in the gym and keep working on my shot. I feel like since I’ve put overtime in the gym, it really showed."

Powell said that during the slump he was overthinking his shots instead of just letting them fly. Now that a few have fallen, he said, he's beginning to regain the confidence to just shoot.

"When I was open, I would force it," Powell said. "I’m a shooter, I know I can make open shots. I was just trying to get in the groove and not think about it."
UCLA at USC boxscore (courtesy of

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