LOS ANGELES (AP) — This time, Southern California finished the job.
Boogie Ellis scored 27 of his career-high 31 points in the second half, leading a 27-6 run that put the Trojans ahead for good, and USC defeated No. 8 UCLA 77-64 on Thursday night.
Three weeks ago, the Bruins eked out a 60-58 win over their crosstown rival after blowing an 18-point lead in front of their home fans.
Ellis and Drew Peterson, who finished with 16 points, reminded their teammates at halftime of how close they came on Jan. 5.
“We can't panic,” Ellis told them. “We're going to come out and hit them in the mouth in the second half.”
The Trojans surely did. Ellis put on a show after he scored four points and went 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half when USC trailed by 12.
The Trojans (15-6, 7-3 Pac-12) improved to 10-1 at home this season, having won 10 straight at Galen Center since dropping their season opener to Florida Gulf Coast.
“It's a good win, but we still got work to handle,” Ellis said.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 15 points and David Singleton and Tyger Campbell added 14 points each for the Bruins (17-4, 8-2). The loss was just the second time this season they've dropped two in a row.
USC roared out of halftime, overcoming a 12-point deficit and surging to take a 52-43 lead. Ellis stole the ball and fed Reese Dixon-Waters for the go-ahead layup. Ellis followed with a 3-pointer and Kobe Johnson also made a 3, getting raucous fans on their feet. Peterson capped the spurt with a dunk.
“Rivalry games are performance. Their guys stepped up and were raining in shots and we didn't," UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “Give them credit.”
The Trojans’ defense harassed the Bruins into 13 turnovers that led to 20 points for USC. UCLA was limited to two baskets and a free throw over the first 10 minutes. It was the first time this season the Bruins had more turnovers than the other team.
“It's all about toughness and taking care of the ball. That's what we're all about,” Jaquez said. “We're a team that usually takes care of the ball. When we don't, bad things happen.”
Ellis kept pouring it on. He sidestepped a flying Campbell to hit an open jumper and later made his third 3-pointer in the half. Ellis made all 10 of his free throws, and the Trojans were 17 of 18 from the line.
UCLA got within two twice in the final five minutes but couldn't stop Ellis.
“We were giving him open looks,” Jaquez said. “He got comfortable.”
UCLA: The pressure of their 14-game winning streak ended in the Arizona desert last week with a 58-52 loss to the Wildcats. Now at the halfway point of the Pac-12 schedule, the Bruins play six of their remaining 10 games at home. Their toughest opponent left is No. 6 Arizona to close out the regular season.
USC: Things continue looking up for 7-foot-1 freshman Vincent Iwuchukwu. He played in his fifth game of the season after returning to limited practice in December. Last July, Iwuchukwu suffered cardiac arrest during a team workout. He had a career-high 12 points and five rebounds at Arizona State last weekend. Against the Bruins he had six points in 17 minutes.
HEISMAN IN THE HOUSE
Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams took center court during a timeout, flashing the Trojans’ V for victory salute and earning a standing ovation. He then tossed T-shirts before re-taking his seat in the student section.
Former UCLA great Bill Walton, working as an analyst for ESPN2, stood up and joined in to spell out “Y.M.C.A.” during a timeout. Walton was spotted walking outside Galen Center carrying his own chair to sit in on the sideline. He has previously undergone spine surgery after battling myriad injuries during his NBA career.
UCLA: Hosts Washington on Feb. 2.
USC: Hosts Washington State on Feb. 2.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll