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January 19, 2008
Bruins fall to invading Trojans
LOS ANGELES(AP) Southern California's two freshmen were better than UCLA's one.
"My mom told me she had a dream - we won and I played well," Jefferson said. "I didn't know the game was over 'til the game was over. That's how crazy this was."
The Trojans won for just the third time in 13 games in Westwood.
"We were way too emotional," said coach Ben Howland, who fell to 5-4 against USC. "We were so caught up and our emotions took over. We made some bad decisions. I can't remember us ever being like that in the last few years."
USC's emotions were pure joy in front of 12,714 hostile fans. Mayo tossed the ball as high as the overhead scoreboard and jumped on teammate Daniel Hackett at the buzzer.
"It was a total team effort," Hackett said. "It feels good to come and a get a win in what they call `The Cathedral.'"
Mayo and Love briefly embraced after the first of what could be just two meetings this season between two of the country's best freshmen. Both are expected to leave school early for the NBA draft.
"I told him he had a great game and I'd see him at the Galen Center," said Mayo, referring to the Feb. 17 crosstown rematch.
UCLA (16-2, 4-1 Pac-10) trailed early in the second half, went on a 20-7 run to take a 57-51 lead, then got outscored 21-6 over the final 6:18.
Jefferson scored 11 points in USC's final push, including their last eight. Hackett had six and Mayo had a dunk.
"We shared the ball," said USC coach Tim Floyd, 2-3 against UCLA. "Jefferson was terrific. Defensively, we played exceptional."
Floyd borrowed from his old NBA play book, throwing different defensive schemes at the Bruins, including a triangle-and-2 that is part zone and part man-to-man.
"They outplayed us," Howland said. "They're a team that will be in the NCAA tournament."
The Bruins went scoreless over the final two minutes, done in by missed shots and turnovers. The teams combined for 33 turnovers.
Love missed a 3-pointer with 50 seconds left and Darren Collison turned the ball over on a bad pass with 38 seconds to go.
"It's my job to calm everybody down and I didn't do a good job of it," Collison said.
The Trojans (11-6, 2-3) came in with no seniors and less experience, but they lead the Pac-10 in field goal percentage defense and held the Bruins to 33.3 percent, their worst outing of the season. USC shot 61 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free throw line.
"Players other than me did a great job," Mayo said. "It was important to make sure everyone was rolling. That way we could keep intensity on the defensive end and on the boards. I just really wanted to win and make sure our guys were happy."
Mayo didn't score his first points until 4:19 was left in the first half when he made two free throws.
"He was very patient and let the game come to him," Love said. "A lot of people give him a lot of grief for shooting so many shots, but today he played a team game."
UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sustained a concussion in the first half and appeared briefly in the second half before leaving the game.
The Trojans started the second half strong, taking a 44-37 lead on seven points by Mayo and four by Jefferson. But the Bruins rallied with an 11-3 run to take their first lead of the half, 48-47, on a basket by Russell Westbrook off Love's outlet pass.
A timeout was called and Love walked to the sideline and raised his arms, exhorting the fans who were already on their feet cheering. In the run, Love had a steal and Westbrook scored four points. USC's lone basket came on a 3-pointer by Mayo over Love in front of the USC bench. Later, Love stole the ball from Mayo deep at USC's end.
The two phenoms alternately scored on three consecutive possessions. Mayo's fastbreak dunk tied the game at 57. Mostly though, Taj Gibson guarded Love and Westbrook defended Mayo.
The Trojans shot 59 percent from the field in the first half and still trailed 32-31. The Bruins shot 33 percent and blew all of an eight-point lead before James Keefe's 3-pointer put them ahead going into halftime.
UCLA snapped an 11-11 tie with an 11-2 run, including four straight points by Collison, to take its largest lead, 22-13. Keefe scored on UCLA's fourth shot attempt on one possession and Shipp capped the spurt with a 3-pointer.