Los Angeles, Ca – There was a lot on the line and both teams played like it. USC had lead majority of the game but UCLA stormed back to defeat their crosstown rival 83-72.
UCLA guard Aaron Holiday was on a mission to ensure the Bruins got the victory. He scored 34 points with 7 assist to lead the Bruins.
“Holiday has been giving us effort all year long,” said UCLA coach Steve Alford, “Just with the pressure and magnitude of the game, speaks volumes to just how special a player he is.”
USC and UCLA are both on the bubble of qualifying for the NCAA tournament and the winner of Saturday nights game would almost have their spot guaranteed in the tournament.
UCLA shot 48% from the 3-point line and it proved to be the difference.
Kris Wilkes was able to play a solid game to complement Holiday performance with 22 points of his on.
USC seemed to have gained all the momentum when Shaqquan Aaron slammed down a dunk to put the Trojans up 8 points.
A Thomas Welsh 3-point basket would ignite UCLA’s comeback to cut USC’s lead 56-52.
A couple of baskets later and Los Angeles native Aaron Holiday tied the game on a layup 60-60.
“It was a battle to get this win and get another road win,” said Alford, “When we hold them to five and we make 13, those are the types of numbers we’re looking for.”
Jordan Mclaughlin made a couple of baskets but Holiday and UCLA had answers and they took the lead with 8:14 left in the 2nd half on a layup by Chris Smith.
UCLA would not give up the lead from there. Holiday canned a 3-point shot to give UCLA a 65-61 lead.
Now both teams will move on to the PAC-12 Tournament in Las Vegas with an automatic bid to the field of 64 for the victor.