USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins Preview and Pick

USC Trojans (19-12) 14-14 ATS, 13-13 O/U vs. No. 15 UCLA Bruins (25-7) 15-13 ATS, 20-10 O/U Friday, March 13, 2009 Staples Center (18,997) Los Angeles, California 11:30 p.m. EST, TV: FSN and FSN West, Radio: 1150 AM (local, LA)

By Wilson of

The USC Trojans mens basketball team will try to earn win No. 20 of the season tonight when they take the floor against their cross-town rivals, the UCLA Bruins. USC will also attempt to move above the .500 mark for wins at the Pac-10 Tourney as they are currently 10-10 all-time in the post season conference tournament.

Southern Cal comes into the game after beating a tough California Golden Bears team last night 79-75 in their tournament opener. The Trojans are averaging 68.2 points per game but they have already raised the bar by scoring ten more than that in game one of the tourney.

It was the usual suspects doing the damage for the Trojans on offense as Daniel Hackett scored 15 and tossed out 7 assist, DeMar DeRozan put up 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Taj Gibson filled it up with 21 points and 16 boards. The Trojans out-rebounded the Bears 53-27! It was 42-27 at the half in favor of the Trojans. California made a strong push in the second but it was Daniel Hackett who clutched-up by hitting two huge free throws with the game tied and only three seconds on the clock which secured the win.

USC is 0-1 against UCLA in the Pac-10 Tournament. They have been to the semi-finals in each of the last three seasons if you include this year. Last year the Trojans were knocked out by the Bruins 57-54. The year before they were beat by the Oregon Ducks.

UCLA is fresh off of a solid performance and win over the Washington State Cougars 64-53. The Bruins came out and buried the Cougars immediately by going on a 21-0 run to open the game. It was 25-5 after the first 8 minutes of play! The Bruins were hitting every shot in town and they fed off of the hometown crowd as well. WSU was shell-shocked and they couldnt find a bucket to save their lives.

Bruins super guard, Darren Collison, led the drive against WSU as he appeared to look great after suffering a bruised tailbone from a week ago vs. Oregon. The Bruins are led in scoring by seniors, Collison and Josh Shipp who both average around 14 points per contest.

UCLA won both meetings against the Trojans during the regular season this year. The Bruins won the first meeting at USC 64-60 and then destroyed the Trojans at Pauley Pavilion 76-60 handing USC their worse loss on the season. UCLA leads the series with USC 128-100.

Both teams can play solid defense but USC may have the advantage as they do have the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in Taj Gibson. Trojans head coach Tim Floyd is a defense first guy, like most coaches want to be but he gets his guys to buy-in to it more than most, so the Trojans should cause a bit of havoc for the Bruins tonight.

UCLA will surely be looking to finish off USC one more time albeit a challenge for any team to knock off an opponent three times in a season. The Bruins can definitely shoot the rock as they led the Pac-10 in field goal shooting at 50.3 percent.

Los Angeles will be fired up tonight as both of their storied programs go head to head. Will the Trojans figure out how to slow down the mighty Bruins or will the Bruins continue their winning ways by closing out USC for a third consecutive time this season?

Wilsons Pick: UCLA 80, USC 77. Luck to ya.