10:30 PM ET, January 28, 2004
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Desmon Farmer had the first laugh, the last laugh and did plenty of smiling in between on UCLA's floor.Farmer scored 28 points and Southern California won 76-69 Wednesday night, snapping its three-game losing streak and extending the Bruins' skid to four games.Farmer was grinning as the sellout crowd of 12,773 targeted him for their wrath during pre-game warmups. They derisively shouted his last name while he ran the floor with a cocky swagger."I play with the crowd and when they taunt me, I play better. I just smile and laugh at them," he said. "It was a big win for us because it's for who owns the city, who's the man in the city."Farmer scored 40 points when the Trojans upset Arizona on Jan. 15."He's having a big year," UCLA point guard Cedric Bozeman said. "He was consistent both halves. When you're on, you're on.""Farmer killed us," first-year UCLA coach Ben Howland said.The Trojans (9-9, 4-5 Pac-10) have won four of their last five games against the Bruins, including three in a row that began with last season's sweep. It was just USC's second victory since 1993 at Pauley Pavilion.USC coach Henry Bibby is 5-11 against his alma mater, where he starred on the Bruins' national championship teams of the 1970s."There is so much tradition here, it's hard to come out and beat them," he said. "We knew this would be a dogfight with two teams coming in having lost three games in a row. We weren't sure which team would show up."The Bruins barely did in the first half when they shot 33 percent. Ryan Hollins, who finished with a career-high 21 points, was their only starter to score. They got 13 from him, and just 11 from their reserves."That's a very disappointing loss, especially the way we played in the first half," Howland said. "We didn't play with a passion until we were getting embarrassed."USC scored the game's first five points on its way to a 44-24 halftime lead. The Trojans dominated on the strength of a 29-11 run, including nine points by Errick Craven and seven by Farmer.Hollins held his own in the first 20 minutes against USC's shifting defensive schemes. But at times, the skinny sophomore was knocked around like a bowling pin. The heftier Michael Fey, who lost his starting job to Hollins, had no rebounds in three minutes."I tried to get my hands on every ball," Hollins said. "It was a career high, but we took a tough loss."Much of USC's early scoring was keyed by steals. The Trojans, who lead the Pac-10 in that category, had six in the first half and nine for the game. They also shot 56 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes."We're not doing a good job defensively," Howland said.Errick Craven added 18 points for the Trojans, who are last in the Pac-10 in scoring defense. They came in having given up 80.9 points, but they held UCLA to 24 points in the first half."I could have been over earlier, but we need to play better defense," Errick Craven said. "We came in tentative in the second half, but we got the energy back."UCLA's Dijon Thompson added 11 points and Bozeman tied his career high with 10 assists. The Bruins committed 18 turnovers.The Bruins (9-7, 5-4) rallied from a 22-point deficit early in the second half with improved defense to get within three points with 2:33 remaining. They trailed 64-45 when they outscored USC 23-8, including consecutive 3-pointers and another basket by Thompson.Trailing 71-68, Bozeman turned the ball over in traffic. USC's Errick Craven was fouled at the other end and made 1-of-2 free throws for a 72-68 lead.T.J. Cummings missed a jumper for UCLA, then Farmer was fouled on consecutive possessions. But he failed to convert either of the one-and-one situations as the Trojans clung to a four-point lead.Bozeman made one of two free throws to draw the Bruins to 72-69 with 28 seconds left. Errick Craven missed another foul shot, but UCLA failed to take advantage when Janou Rubin was called for traveling with 20 seconds left.Farmer made two free throws for a 74-69 lead with 17 seconds to go. Fans began pouring out of Pauley when USC called time-out. Cummings intentionally fouled Gregg Guenther after the time-out, and the player who was a tight end on USC's Rose Bowl-winning football team made both free throws with five seconds left."We almost gave UCLA a chance," Guenther said.UCLA's student section was especially tough on USC's cheerleaders, turning their backs whenever the squad took the floor during a timeout. The students also shouted vulgarities about USC, but they had nothing to cheer about until UCLA briefly revived itself in the second half.
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