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February 5, 2009
LOS ANGELES(AP) Defense led to turnovers that led to easy transition baskets. UCLA may have finally hit upon a winning formula.
Josh Shipp had 19 points and the 15th-ranked Bruins defeated crosstown rival Southern California 76-60 on Wednesday night for their third consecutive blowout victory.
"It really feels good," freshman Jrue Holiday said. "Stopping them on the defensive end, that's our bread and butter."
The Bruins (18-4, 8-2) took sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 over No. 22 Washington, which was idle. They were coming off weekend routs of California and Stanford by 15 and 34 points, respectively.
This one got so out of hand that even 98-year-old former UCLA coach John Wooden joined fans streaming out of Pauley Pavilion with 4 1/2 minutes remaining and the Bruins leading by 24 points.
"This was a great spanking," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "They really put it on us."
Alfred Aboya had 14 points and tied his career high with 12 rebounds, Holiday had 13 points, five rebounds and seven assists, and Nikola Dragovic added 12 points - all on 3-pointers - for the Bruins, who notched their largest victory over USC since a 21-point win in 2005.
Shipp hit a career-high 11 free throws on 12 attempts.
"The team has really been improving as we move forward. The tempo has been up because of our defense," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "We've been getting the ball in transition and making a lot of hustle plays."
Dwight Lewis scored 20 points and freshman DeMar DeRozan added 15 for the Trojans (15-7, 6-4), who had their three-game winning streak snapped. UCLA's 64-60 victory on Jan. 11 at Galen Center is the only home loss for the Trojans this season.
"We looked bad out there, plain and simple," a dejected Daniel Hackett said. "I have no answers. I have no idea why we came out so flat."
Taj Gibson, USC's leading scorer and rebounder, was held to a season-low two points and four rebounds. He left the court 2 1/2 minutes into the second half after dislocating his right pinkie.
"It happened so quickly. I tried to feel my hand and it was turned numb," Gibson said. "The doc said dislocation. I was numbed with three needles."
But the Trojans' pain had been inflicted long before then.
UCLA decided the game in the first half on its way to improving to 12-1 at home.
USC trailed by three points 4 minutes into the game when the Bruins went on a 35-15 spurt that ended the half. Dragovic launched the spurt with consecutive 3-pointers and added two more later in the run. Shipp scored six straight points before Holiday's layup ended the spree.
"We're able to get up and down the court a lot more," Shipp said. "We kept trying to force turnovers and get a lot of easy points."
When the Trojans weren't committing 14 of their 23 turnovers, they missed outside shots or couldn't get past a wall of UCLA defenders in the paint. The Bruins have forced 63 turnovers in their last three victories.
"They were absolutely terrific," Floyd said. "They forced us into turnovers that we had not made in the last six games. We did not duplicate their defense in preparation for this game."
The Bruins led 44-21 at halftime, their largest lead of the half and the second-fewest points in a half they have allowed in a conference game this season.
USC came unglued not long after that, when they trailed by 25 points. Daniel Hackett was called for an intentional foul on Shipp, who fell face first on the court after getting hip-checked in mid-air. Shipp calmly got up, hit both free throws for a 49-26 lead and the Bruins retained possession.
"I was trying to dunk it and he bumped me in the hip," Shipp said. "We were just playing hard basketball."
Floyd was irate, with a referee grabbing his arm to keep him from approaching midcourt. His record dropped to 2-7 against UCLA.
Owning a commanding lead allowed Howland to rest starting guard Darren Collison, who had been racking up exhausting minutes in the first half of Pac-10 play. He finished with four points.