Los Angeles, CA – The No. 21 USC Trojans (21-4, 10-4 Pac-12) came out ready for war in their crosstown rivalry against the No. 12 UCLA Bruins (17-5, 9-4 Pac-12) and delivered a statement win 67-64 on Saturday night.
“That was a terrific college basketball game,” said USC head coach Andy Enfield. “UCLA is so hard to guard. I thought our defense was outstanding to hold them to 30%.”
USC starting forward Isaiah Mobley was ruled out with a nose fracture.
“Our players played with a lot of heart, a lot of toughness, and without our best player. We didn’t find out Isaiah wasn’t playing until this afternoon. We feel very badly for him because he wanted to be out there with his teammates in this atmosphere. We had just a tremendous crowd. I think that’s why we were able to pull it out in the second half. They gave us tremendous energy,” said Enfield.
A transition layup scored by Max Agbonkpolo gave the Trojans a five-point lead 67-62 with five seconds left at the end of the game.
UCLA’s Johnny Juzang was fouled and knocked down both free throws to cut the lead to three 67-64 with two seconds remaining.
USC’s Chevez Goodwin inbounded the ball and tried to throw a cross court pass, but it was short and fell into the hands of Tyger Campbell.
Campbell launched a three to tie it and send it into overtime, but it was off the back of the iron.
USC was able to take a deep sigh of relief as the sold-out crowd of Trojan fans stormed the court in excitement.
“I will say I’ll never let Chevez inbound the ball at the end of a game again. He says he’s a football player, well he was about 30 yards off on that one. He was supposed to go deep, and he couldn’t even get it to half court. Luckily the shot didn’t go in, but one play doesn’t decide the game. Our players played with grit the whole game,” said coach Enfield.
Campbell scored a team high 27 points, while Johnny Juzang was held to 12 points.
Boogie Ellis struggled all night and went scoreless for the game.
At halftime USC’s Ellis, and UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. and David Singleton were all scoreless.
It was a block party for USC. They had 6 blocks in the first half and 10 blocks total, compared to UCLA’s one block.
USC guard Drew Peterson dropped a career-high 27 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and five blocks.
“One of my things this year was really to improve my defense,” said Peterson. “Thankfully I was able to time a few of those pretty right and guard Juzang pretty well, so it was awesome.”
It was a close game as USC led at the half 33-31.
In the second half, a momentum swing swung in the Bruins favor with a transition layup by Jaylen Clark to put the Bruins up by four 45-41 at the 12:28 mark, but the Trojans refused to back down to the Bruins.
USC went on a run to regain the lead 54-48 with 6:48 left and never looked back.
UCLA shot 30.2% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range. USC shot 43.6% from the field and shot 44.4% from the three.
This win marks five straight victories for USC over UCLA.
Coach Enfield discussed the character of his team.
“This game meant a lot to our players. They knew it was an important game in the Pac-12 standings and in the national standings and it’s a crosstown rivalry. They also knew that we had never beaten UCLA five times in a row. So, this was a big game for us. I cannot be more proud of these young men because of the effort and they had a lot of grit today. We didn’t play the perfect game, but we played very hard and very tough,” said Enfield.
USC alums Nick Young and Matt Barkely were in attendance.
Current Trojan wide receiver Drake London also made an appearance.
USC hosts Washington next Thursday, Feb. 17 at 8:30 pm.
The rematch of USC vs. UCLA will be the season closer and will take place at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, March 5 at 7 p.m.