UCLA fights off USC comeback to increase profitable steak to 11

If at first you don’t succeed, get the ball again within the fingers of Jaylen Clark.

Along with his group on the verge of an epic collapse within the remaining minute towards its archrival, badly outplayed for the whole second half, the UCLA junior guard discovered himself open for a three-pointer.

He missed.

As Clark’s shot caromed off the rim, the Bruins trailed USC by two factors with 19 seconds left and the sellout Pauley Pavilion crowd grew uneasy on the prospect of the house group dropping a recreation that it as soon as led by 18 factors early within the second half.

The Bruins would get another shot at redemption courtesy of senior guard David Singleton, who snatched the rebound and instantly fed Clark for an additional open look from past the three-point arc. With out hesitation, Clark rose for an additional attempt.

“When I saw David had it,” Clark would say later, “I knew it was going in in my head before I even caught it.”

His imaginative and prescient got here true. Clark’s second shot fell via the online with 15 seconds left, the celebrity-packed crowd roared and Tenth-ranked UCLA held on for a 60-58 victory Thursday evening in what could possibly be dubbed the Nice Escape after Boogie Ellis’ baseline jumper on the buzzer was off the mark.

“We lucked out and got up out of here with a win,” stated Clark, who led the Bruins (14-2 general, 5-0 Pac-12 Convention) with 15 factors, “but it’s not a performance we’re really proud of.”

Going small within the second half and counting on a swarming protection that held UCLA scoreless for eight minutes, the Trojans furiously rallied thanks largely to the efforts of sixth man Reese Dixon-Waters. His 12 factors within the second half matched UCLA’s whole over the primary 19 minutes 45 seconds earlier than Clark made his three-pointer and Singleton added a free throw.

“We had to match their energy,” stated Dixon-Waters, whose hook shot had given the Trojans a 58-56 lead with 32 seconds left. “We came out slow, lethargic in the first half, so we had to match their energy and their intensity on offense and defense. Just ball movement and getting open shots.”

USC guard Boogie Ellis (5) drives previous UCLA ahead Adem Bona (3) throughout the first half at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Instances)

Down by one after Clark’s three-pointer, Clark figured the Trojans would return to Dixon-Waters. They by no means obtained the prospect. Ellis was known as for an unlawful display screen on Clark with seven seconds left, doubling down on disappointment after Ellis had missed a box-out on Singleton’s rebound.

The Trojans then shortly fouled Singleton, who transformed one among two free throws to increase his group’s benefit to 2 factors earlier than Ellis’ remaining shot got here up quick.

Singleton and Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 12 factors every for the Bruins, who prolonged their profitable streak to 11 video games regardless of being outshot 50% to 22.7% within the second half whereas additionally shedding the rebounding battle by three.

Clearly agitated by his group’s huge letdown, UCLA coach Mick Cronin delivered a brief postgame tackle to his gamers. Cronin instructed Clark that it took guts to take the final shot and that he was pleased with him earlier than letting assistant coach Rod Palmer do the remainder of the speaking.

However Cronin had a lot to say a couple of minutes later when he met with reporters.

“I saw it coming in the first half, guys,” Cronin stated. “We took some shots that were just ridiculous for no reason when we had a chance to bury them. We took a lot of selfish shots. And then they made adjustments.”

Dixon-Waters completed with 16 factors whereas making all seven of his photographs for the Trojans (11-5, 3-2), whose 44-26 halftime deficit was their largest of the season, in addition to a late-night wakeup name.

“It was embarrassing in the first half,” USC coach Andy Enfield stated. “It embarrassed me as a head coach. To come out in a rivalry game and be down 18 at halftime, to give the effort we gave, it was embarrassing for all of us.”

The humiliation belonged to UCLA within the second half … earlier than the ultimate sequence.

“We just let them punk us,” stated Jaquez, who missed a number of layups and had two photographs blocked in a four-minute span by USC reserve Harrison Hornery. “I mean, it’s really as simple as that. We weren’t getting to our spots, guys couldn’t get open. We couldn’t finish at the rim, couldn’t make free throws. It was just a lot of things that we just weren’t doing that we usually do.”

In the long run, the Bruins discovered a approach, even when it was a victory that left their coach feeling as if his group had misplaced its approach. Requested how he reconciled pulling out the win with additionally giving up such a giant lead, Cronin eyed a reporter sternly.

“Do I look happy?” Cronin stated. “No reconciliation.”