USC put a thorn in UCLA

NCAA College Basketball second half game action basketball game between the UCLA Bruins vs USC Trojans at Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Full Image 360)

USC put a thorn in UCLA’s side and upset the nation’s No. 7 basketball team 84-76 in Pac-12 play to make it four wins in a row over the Bruins on Wednesday night at Galen Center.

Shaqquan Aaron spearheaded the Trojans (18-4 overall, 5-4 conference) with a career- and game-high 23 points, while Elijah Stewart scored four 3s and finished with 15 points. The two combined for eight of the Trojans’ 14 shots from distance. Three other Trojans racked up double-digit points.

Combined with USC’s hot shooting night, the Trojan defense forced 17 UCLA turnovers, 12 of which came off steals, and dropped nine threes in the first half.

“Once they went zone, we had a hard time fighting their backcourt on one-on-one matchups,” UCLA head coach Steve Alford said. “We knew they were going to go zone, and they did it very well and they created a lot of turnovers.”

“The turnovers really hurt us in the first half,” Alford continued. “We dug ourselves a hole being down 12 (points) in the first half and it disrupted our flow of how we wanted to sub in the second half.”

Isaac Hamilton led the Bruins (19-3, 6-3) with 20 points, while Lonzo Ball and Aaron Holiday finished with 15.

The Bruins grabbed control early with an 8-0 run before Stewart sank a three to put the Trojans on the board with 2:56 gone in the game.

The Bruins looked in total control until midway in the half when USC forward Chimezie Metu tied the game 26-26 from midrange, which sparked a 13-2 Trojan run and a 50-38 halftime Trojan lead. The Bruins went over three minutes without scoring before Holiday stumbled in a lay-up with 4:20 left in the half.

“Coach gave us a great game plan and we stuck to it,” Metu said. “(UCLA is) a really good team. They shoot a lot of threes and get on transition. We had to take care of the ball and get back in transition and we did that tonight.”

Stewart started the second half with a pair of threes, while the Trojans continued to disrupt UCLA’s rhythm for much of the frame.

USC went cold for three minutes midway into the half and allowed a UCLA 7-0 run to cut their once 13-point lead to 4 with 9:43 left. The Trojans held off the Bruins and added to their tally to hang on for the win.