Las Vegas, NV – The Bruins faced cross-town rival USC in a tone-setting defensive performance.
Last years’ Bruins squad stunned the NCAA and fans with their wild Final Four run last postseason. Will this be the spark that starts another wild March Madness for the Bruins?
All of the evidence is pointing towards that notion… Including the recurring come-back after a slow start.
While the Trojans started the game hot, the Bruins quickly shifted the momentum and clamped down defensively.
The Bruins held USC forward Isaiah Mobley with an unusually quiet four-point 1st half while guard Boogie Ellis knocked three triples to keep USC afloat. UCLA held the Trojans to a measly 9-29 shooting in the first half of action.
On the other end, The Bruins balanced offensive attack was led by Jamie Jaquez with an 11-point first half. Jaquez’s play elevated his teammates including Jules Bernard. Bernard would have an eight-point first half which included a five-point swing, pushing to a Bruins 27-19 lead.
The tone was set, but the second half action provided an opportunity for the rival Trojans. USC cut the deficit to four points, but the Bruins conversely got hot offensively. Jaquez led the charge with 19 points and 5 rebounds, while four other members of the starting five added double-figure scoring.
USC’s standout Boogie Ellis heated up and nailed five triples for 18 of his 27 total points. Ellis stood tall but his teammates combined for a total of 32 points, including 7 bench points from Kobe Johnson. The Trojans couldn’t buy a basket and their struggles led them into playing defense for the majority of the evening.
UCLA guard Tyger Campbell was quick to note in the postgame presser that, “When we went on our run last reason, we locked in on the defensive side of the ball. Coach preaches defense, defense, defense, so we’re trying to lock in again.”
The Bruins’ victory sets them up for their first Pac-12 title game since winning the National Championship back in 2014. This win over their cross-town rival has added an even more interesting fold to what will come in this years’ March Madness.