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Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Slow start leads to another loss

By Erik McKinney

In a 64-54 defeat Wednesday night, the USC Trojans (6-21, 1-13 Pac-12) never lost their fight against the UCLA Bruins (15-11, 8-6), but another poor start offensively did them in as they dropped their fifth consecutive game and earned a loss for the 17th time in the past 19 games.

UCLA jumped out to a 31-16 halftime lead and extended the lead to 20 points early in the second half. The Trojans eventually whittled the lead to 10 with 1:34 remaining, but could get no closer. The final 20 minutes served as a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark season, as USC continued to play hard even with the game seemingly out of reach.

The Trojans were no match for the Bruins inside, as the Wear twins each posted double-doubles and combined for 30 points and 24 rebounds. That rebounding number alone matched USC's output, as UCLA ran up a 44-24 advantage on the boards.

Garrett Jackson played large stretches of the game as the tallest player on the floor for the Trojans and finished with an admirable 15 points and three blocks. Byron Wesley led USC with 16 points, but once again the Trojans were stalled by shooting woes. USC shot less than 40 percent and converted just 20 percent on 3-point attempts (3-of-15).

The 16 first-half points marked the 11th time this season USC has scored fewer than 20 points in a half. It was the ninth such occurrence in the first half of a game.

This marks the first regular season sweep for UCLA over USC since 2007 and puts the Trojans one loss away from tying the program record for most losses in a season.