It has been six years since Southern California swept the regular-season series with intra-city blood rival UCLA.
But the streak is over. Andy Enfield’s Trojans have decidedly taken the crown of Los Angeles this season. USC cruised to an 80-61 win over the Bruins on Thursday night, this coming after the Trojans’ 14-point win in Westwood on Jan. 13.
These are the first victories in more than three years for USC against UCLA, and in a season where the Trojans look to be well-placed to make the NCAA Tournament, while UCLA is clearly stuck in the mud and looking more like an NIT team.
The loss here means — and this isn’t exactly surprising yet still kind of astounding — that for just the third time in 65 years, UCLA is off to a 4-6 start in league play. The Bruins are 13-10 overall and haven’t put together something longer than a two-game winning streak since the middle of December. It’s not getting easier, either. Steve Alford’s team now gets road games against the Arizona schools on Feb. 12 (vs. the Wildcats) and Feb. 14 (vs. the Sun Devils).
For Trojans fans, this has to be a cherished season. It’s truly a once-in-a-decade occurrence when they can indisputably declare that their program is better than blue-blood UCLA. But this is that season. USC is undefeated (14-0) at the Galen Center this season and is only one game behind Oregon in the loss column in the Pac-12. Enfield’s crew also has upcoming road games against Arizona and Arizona State, only its dates are flipped with UCLA’s.
Julian Jacobs led all scorers with 17, and he also gave six rebounds and five assists for Southern Cal. The Trojans only committed 12 fouls. They were boosted by 12-of-13 shooting from the charity striple.
UCLA shot 35 perfect, that number brought down by careless bombing from deep; the Bruins were 7 of 26 from 3-point range. The assessment on UCLA’s NCAA Tournament chances will have to wait until after the Arizona trip. Two wins there, and it’s a completely different picture. Get a split, and the Bruins are probably still on the outside looking in. Get swept? The team likely won’t recover from that.
USC now has to think about what it can get in terms of seeding. The latest projection had here at CBS Sports has the Trojans at No. 6. But that was as of Monday. Now you have to figure this team is a No. 5 — and climbing.