UCLA point guard Bryce Alford talks about the Bruins’ win over USC, and what looms next against Arizona.
UCLA coasted to a 96-70 win over USC in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals, as sophomore Isaac Hamilton scored a career-high 36 points — the most for any Bruin in a decade. Hamilton did this just four days after the death of his grandmother, Lucine.
“I said a little prayer,” he said. “I knew she was watching me above. I just came out and competed. I’m hoping she’s happy with the performance I had today.”
LAS VEGAS >> That UCLA beat USC in the Pac-12 Tournament wasn’t much of a surprise.
That Isaac Hamilton was the Bruins’ best offensive player? Well, this was new.
The sophomore guard scored a career-high 36 points in a 96-70 decision over the Trojans on Thursday, one that punched a ticket to the Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against No. 1-seed Arizona.
It was an astounding performance, particularly for a player who entered the MGM Grand Garden arena averaging 10.1 points per game. Hamilton had only topped 20 points once in his career. In four of his last eight games, he hadn’t even scored in double digits. Continue reading
UCLA’s Kevon Looney suffered a facial injury against USC in the first half, and his return to the game is questionable.
The freshman forward entered the game averaging 12.3 points and 9.5 rebounds for the Bruins, and appeared to have a slight cut under his left eye. He had five points, four rebounds and two steals in 10 minutes before sitting out.
UCLA has a 47-29 halftime lead over the Trojans, keyed largely by a strong performance by Isaac Hamilton. The sophomore guard scored 18 points in the first period, just three shy of his career high.
UPDATE: Looney was been ruled out for the second half against USC, and eventually left the arena for a CT scan.
UCLA hasn’t even played in this year’s Pac-12 Tournament, its NCAA Tournament chances have already gotten a little weaker.
The fourth-seeded Bruins will play USC on Thursday at 2:30 p.m., an easier matchup than any other they could have hoped for — but also a game that offers little for their postseason resume. UCLA is on the wrong side of the bubble with a 19-12 record. Beating the 12th-seeded Trojans — who upset Arizona State, 67-64 — doesn’t do much to help its case.
“Being last in the (Pac-12), teams can’t really afford to lose to us,” said USC sophomore Julian Jacobs. “We’re aware they’re on the bubble of making the tournament. And we’d love to stop them from making the tournament.”
Steve Alford’s team has a much better chance at beating USC for the third time this season than beating the Sun Devils. But there was a slim chance that a win over ASU would have been enough for a spot in the Big Dance. Now, UCLA likely won’t get into the field of 68 unless it reaches the Pac-12 title game, a path that likely means beating No. 1-seeded Arizona.