Following a narrow loss to the Stanford Cardinal earlier in the week, the Trojans men’s basketball team will try for a victory against its crosstown rival when the UCLA Bruins visit the Galen Center on Wednesday night.
The Trojans (9-7, 1-3 Pac 12) were able to keep it close against Stanford until the very end and dropped their Pac-12 meeting, 78-76. Sophomore guard Julian Jacobs led the Trojans with 16 points and freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin and sophomore forward Nikola Jovanovic added 14 points and 13 points, respectively. The two spent a lot of time on the court together in the game, and head coach Andy Enfield was happy with how the two played together.
“I liked what we saw. Julian was playing well at the point, Jordan was really good coming off screens and making plays,” Enfield said. “Jordan’s a true point guard and Julian is really a point that can play the two because he has bigger size, but I’m fine with both of them playing either position.”
Stanford (11-4, 3-1) was led by senior guard Anthony Brown, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and the Cardinal was able to earn its third straight win over the Trojans. Junior forward Rosco Allen had a career-high 18 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc. Senior center Stefan Nastic had 15 points and senior guard Chasson Randle added 12.
The Trojans were able to cut the deficit to one at the end of the game, led in part to a flurry of points by Jacobs and freshman guard Elijah Stewart. Stanford missed a few 3-point plays, and USC capitalized on the miscues to give themselves a chance to win. McLaughlin, in his first game back from injury, turned the ball over in the closing seconds and Stanford made a clutch free throw to preserve the win.
Despite the tough loss, McLaughlin was able to stay positive.
“We battled and we can get some positive things out of this,” said McLaughlin. “At the end of the day, that’s all we can ask for.”
The Trojans look to move on from the defeat as they face the Bruins (10-7, 2-2) on Wednesday night. UCLA is led by freshman forward Kevon Looney, who was recently named Pac-12 Player of the Week after averaging 21 points and 13 rebounds in the Bruins’ two conference wins over Stanford and California. Looney is the only freshman in the nation to be averaging a double-double, and he ranks 12th in the nation with 10.3 rebounds per game. With Looney leading the way, UCLA ranks first in the Pac-12 in rebounds per game (41.4) and offensive rebounds per game (13.9).
Not only will USC try to win the battle of the boards down low, but they will also attempt to contain the main scorers on the Bruins. Sophomore guard Bryce Alford ranks seventh in the Pac-12 in scoring and leads the Bruins with 15.4 points per game. Sophomore guard Isaac Hamilton has provided consistent scoring for UCLA and has scored in double digits in 12 of 17 games on the year.
Enfield is treating the contest as if it is just another game.
“UCLA is a terrific team — very talented, very well-coached — and they’re playing well right now,” Enfield said. “For us to have a good Pac-12 record, they’re one of the 11 teams we have to beat. So we look at that as another Pac-12 game with a little extra enthusiasm because they are local, it’s a rival, and it should be a great crowd in here. But we’re looking to really ramp this up on a national scale and the first thing we have to do is win league games.”
In addition to conference standings, the game will count toward the BMW Crosstown Cup, a competition between the two schools that includes all sports. The winner of the game will earn 15 points toward the season’s score which the Bruins currently lead 45-10.
“It should be a very exciting game,” said McLaughlin. “We’re getting better every day in practice, so it should be a fun game.”
The game will tip off at 6 p.m. at the Galen Center and will be broadcast on ESPN2.