Men: UCLA 55, USC 40
By Michelle Smith
LOS ANGELES - The battle of the local teams in this 2012 Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament went to the UCLA Bruins.
UCLA outscored USC decisively in the second half and closed out a 55-40 victory at the Staples Center on Wednesday afternoon.
UCLA, the No. 5 seed, has now won five of its last six games and will face fourth-seeded Arizona in Thursday's quarterfinal round at 2:30 p.m. The two teams split their regular-season series.
USC's season ends with its 10th straight defeat and a 6-26, which sets a school-record for losses in a season.
The Trojans came into the game having won their first conference tournament game in their last four appearances. But the Bruins ended that streak with a dominating second-half performance.
UCLA led just 22-21 at halftime, but went on a 17-4 run to open the second half and built a 39-25 lead with 14:32 to go on a 3-pointer by Tyler Lamb.
"I thought obviously the first 10, 12 minutes of the first half we were really a step slow, out of sync," said UCLA coach Ben Howland of his team's slow start. "The premise of their defense is to pack everybody in and make you take jump shots. We took about five jump shots right away early in the game and missed all of them."
Howland was happy to see his team take advantage inside in the second half.
"We won the game today by shooting normally you don't win games by 15 shooting 33% from the field, but we were good enough defensively to hold them to 28%," Howland said.
It was a difficult offensive day for USC, who shot 28.8 percent from the field and just 2 of 15 from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Bruins, who swept the season series over the Trojans, were led by Lazeric Jones' 15 points. Forward Travis Wear pitched in with 12, his twin brother David pitching in 10 rebounds.
"I feel like us even playing this game to get the jitters out a little bit would help," Jones said. "But also just coming out and being aggressive, but also being patient."
USC was led by freshman guard Byron Wesley with 13 points. Garrett Jackson was the only other USC player in double figures with 11.
USC coach Kevin O'Neill reflected on his team's difficult game and ultimately difficult year.
"We only turned over 11 times and defended pretty well, rebounded the ball pretty well. But unfortunately we didn't do enough on the offensive end to win it," O'Neill said. "I want to make a point that all of our players that were left standing throughout the end of the year did a great job of playing as hard as they could at all times. That says a lot about them as people and as players, and I appreciate their efforts."