Norman Powell scored a season-high 21 points in UCLA’s 83-73 win at USC last night, 10 of which came in the first 7:08 of the second half as part of his team’s 27-6 run.
It’s not the first time the junior has played the spark plug role this season. In a 70-68 win at Oregon, he scored eight of UCLA’s first 10 points of the second half. In a 69-56 win at Colorado, he scored 19 and forced Buffs guard Askia Booker into early foul trouble.
What made his latest outing a bit different was the return of his shooting stroke. He entered the game shooting 18.4 percent from beyond the arc, but made 2-of-4 against the Trojans. It was the second time this season that he drained multiple 3-pointers.
His eight field goals on Saturday were also a single-game record for a UCLA player in the Galen Center, which was built before the 2006-07 season.
Powell’s improved play has come with increased playing time — though why that uptick hadn’t come earlier is still a pertinent question. The guard has played at least 30 minutes in three of his past four games. He had only cleared that mark in two other games: the first two of the season, against Drexel and Oakland.
– UCLA’s halftime turnaround, summed up by Powell, Steve Alford and Jordan Adams:
– As usual, Kyle Anderson flirted with a triple-double by putting up 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He is now the first UCLA player to have at least 200 rebounds and 100 assists since Charles O’Bannon did so in 1995. O’Bannon finished that title season with 201 rebounds and 101 assists, while Anderson already has 201 and 153.
The 6-foot-9 point guard had his first career triple-double in November, which was just the third ever recorded in UCLA history. The way he’s played this season, it’d be a shame if he doesn’t become the first Bruin to have two official career triple-doubles.
– Freshman point guard Bryce Alford only played 16 minutes, his shortest appearance yet. He missed all four shots, but made four free throws and had three assists.
His right ankle was heavily wrapped in ice after the game, due to a sprained tendon that had forced him to miss the last two practices of the week.
– Saturday’s UCLA win marked the first time since 2009-10 that either UCLA or USC has swept the other in football and men’s basketball. The Trojans won all three meetings that season, while the Bruins had last completed the sweep in 2006-07.
– The Trojans made just 11 of 21 free throws in their 10-point loss, and rank 11th in the conference at 66.0 percent on the season. This is supremely ironic given that coach Andy Enfield holds the NCAA career record at 92.5 percent, and once sold a method for improving free throws.