USC, UCLA to face off at Sports Arena
From 1959-2006, the USC menâs basketball team played its home games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Exposition Park, adjacent to the University Park Campus.
But this season the Trojansâ crosstown rival, UCLA, has called the 52-year-old venue home, while its on-campus arena, Pauley Pavilion, undergoes renovations scheduled to be completed fall.
On Wednesday, USC (6-20, 1-12) will return to the Sports Arena for the first time in six years to face the Bruins.
âItâs an old building,â freshman guard Byron Wesley said. âI know it has a lot of history so Iâm excited to play there.â
But that doesnât mean it wonât be a little strange, either.
âItâs going to be a little weird with it being down the street,â Wesley said. âBut we still have to go out there and play hard.â
Through 11 games this season at the Sports Arena, which is roughly 15 miles east of UCLAâs campus, the Bruins (14-11, 7-6) have gone 11-4. UCLAâs most recent game was a 73-63 home loss to first-place California.
But whatever struggles the Bruins have had this season pale in comparison to those of USC. Currently, the Trojans have lost 13 of their last 14 games and have won just once in the months of January and February.
Following Sundayâs 59-47 loss to Stanford, they have lost 20 games for the first time since the 1988-1989 season.
âThere is no fun in losing â for anybody,â USC coach Kevin OâNeill said following the 12-point loss to the Cardinal. âAnd thereâs really no fun in losing ugly. Iâm aware of all that. But what we need to do as a group is keep doing our job every single day.â
What has given the Trojans the most trouble this season is scoring. Currently, they average 53.3 points per game, which puts them 342nd out of 344 Division I teams.
Such scoring difficulties, as OâNeill is often quick to point, stem largely from the injuries of several starters, redshirt sophomore center Dewayne Dedmon, senior guard Jio Fontan and redshirt junior forward Aaron Fuller, that have left the Trojans with just six scholarship players healthy enough to play.
As a result, most starters are playing at least 30 minutes per game.
âAll these guys are getting a great opportunity to prove what they can do,â OâNeill said. âThe more they can prove what they can do, the bigger their role will be going forward.â
One of those players is Wesley, who ranks seventh among all Pac-12 freshmen in scoring with 8.1 points per game and fourth in rebounds at 4.8 per game.
âI love the way Byron Wesley has played,â OâNeill said. âI really do. He fights hard. Whatever these guys do will decide their role in the future.â
USC lost to UCLA earlier this season, 66-47, its sixth loss in a row at the time, at the Galen Center, where the Trojans made 18 of 50 field goal attempts.
Tip-offÂ will be at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Sports Prime Ticket.