UCLA men’s basketball is all smiles after running past USC in rivalry game

Adem Bona (3) of the UCLA Bruins looses the ball against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Jan Vide (27) of the UCLA Bruins goes up for the rebound against Joshua Morgan (24) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Brandon Williams (5) of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against Kijani Wright (33) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans reacts towards Dylan Andrews (2) of the UCLA Bruins after a blocked hot in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Dylan Andrews (2) of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Devin Williams (22) of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against Vincent Iwuchukwu (3) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Brandon Williams (5) of the UCLA Bruins looses the ball against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

DJ Rodman (10) of the USC Trojans rebounds against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Adem Bona (3) of the UCLA Bruins reacts against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Dylan Andrews (2) of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Dylan Andrews (2) of the UCLA Bruins shoots against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach Andy Enfield of the USC Trojans reacts against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Dylan Andrews (2) of the UCLA Bruins passes to teammate Brandon Williams (5) of the UCLA Bruins against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach Andy Enfield of the USC Trojans reacts against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans along with teammates Vincent Iwuchukwu (3) of the USC Trojans and Joshua Morgan (24) of the USC Trojans after a turnover against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Joshua Morgan (24) of the USC Trojans rebounds over Brandon Williams (5) of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Adem Bona (3) of the UCLA Bruins shot against Vincent Iwuchukwu (3) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans scrambles for the ball against Devin Williams (22) of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Dylan Andrews (2) of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Head coach Mick Cronin of the UCLA Bruins reacts against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Adem Bona (3) of the UCLA Bruins blocks the shot by Boogie Ellis (5) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Dylan Andrews (2) of the UCLA Bruins drives to the basket past Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans scrambles for the ball against Devin Williams (22) of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Vincent Iwuchukwu (3) of the USC Trojans wins the tip off against Adem Bona (3) of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans scrambles for the ball against Devin Williams (22) of the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Sebastian Mack (12) of the UCLA Bruins reacts with teammate Aday Mara (15) of the UCLA Bruins after recovering a loose ball against the USC Trojans in the first half of a Men’s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Boogie Ellis (5) of the USC Trojans during a time out against the UCLA Bruins in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Adem Bona (3) of the UCLA Bruins blocks the shot by Boogie Ellis (5) of the USC Trojans in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

USC Trojans football coach Lincoln Riley in the first half of a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans warms up prior to a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans warms up prior to a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans warms up prior to a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans warms up prior to a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans warms up prior to a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans warms up prior to a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Bronny James (6) of the USC Trojans warms up prior to a Menxe2x80x99s NCAA basketball game between the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins at the Galen Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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LOS ANGELES — There’s an adage that basketball is a game of runs. That proved to be true during a 22-4 run in the first half of UCLA men’s basketball’s 65-50 win against crosstown rival USC on Saturday night at the Galen Center.

“We just knew from the jump how big this game was for our fans and for anybody who goes to UCLA or our UCLA fan base,” said UCLA sophomore guard Dylan Andrews. “We wanted to get this game, especially I knew Coach Cronin hadn’t won a game at the Galen Center yet so I for sure wanted to get this one for him, especially since I didn’t play last year.”

UCLA’s Andrews finished with a team-high 20 points to lead UCLA (9-11, 4-5 Pac-12) to a rousing road victory. Junior guard Lazar Stefanovic had 17 points and 9 rebounds. Sophomore forward Adem Bona added a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two game-changing blocks.

“It was amazing,” Bona added. “I’ve always wanted to do this. Last year, we came here and we gave up our lead and I wasn’t going to let it happen this year. It was exciting to see the team come together.”

The Bruins, who led 37-26 at halftime, went on a 22-4 run in the final 6:28 of the first half to seize control against USC. The run seemingly caught the Trojans (8-12, 2-7 Pac-12) by surprise because up until that point, the Bruins were shooting 26.3% from the field, having only made 5 of 19 attempts in the first 12 minutes of the game.

However, it was not until reserve freshman forward Devin Williams and freshman center Aday Mara combined for a 6-0 run that momentum began to swing UCLA’s way.

“To be honest with you, I thought although they didn’t play that much, Aday (Mara and Devin (Williams) really changed the rhythm of the game,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin added. “Aday and Devin got in there. Devin got a couple of putbacks. Aday as well. They do some things with their where they go man, so it takes a while to get comfortable with that.”

Cronin said Williams who was averaging 3.3 minutes per game before Saturday’s contest, knew he was going to play with freshman forward Berke Buyuktuncel sidelined with a left wrist injury.

“I told (Devin) don’t hesitate, shot the ball when you’re open,” Cronin said. “That’s been the theme that we’ve been really working hard on and Aday did the same thing.”

The Bruins rattled off a 12-0 run, which gave them a 27-22 lead with 3:27 remaining in the first half. 12 of UCLA’s 22 points before halftime were three-pointers by Stefanovic, Will McClendon (2) and Andrews, who led UCLA with 12 points at halftime.

UCLA closed the first half strong. The Bruins outscored USC by a 10-4 margin. They also held a 22-12 rebounding margin, including a 10-0 advantage in offensive rebounding.

“It was huge,” Stefanovic said. “We knew that was one of the keys to this game. (USC) started the game with two centers and so it was pretty clear what they wanted to do. We made a clear point that we need to box out, we have to rebound and we have to crash the glass on offense too. It was one of the keys coming in we knew that and we did a great job on it.”

“At halftime, we had 14 more shots than USC,” Cronin added. “It’s hard to lose. You ought to be up and the truth of it is in the second half, we didn’t get the ball in the basketball very well. We had a stretch of missed free throws and missed shots or we could have really got away from them.”

UCLA Bona’s big slam dunk, pushed the Bruins lead to 47-32 with 14:08 left in the second half.

UCLA’s Andrews nearly dunked but settled for a fast-break layup, to push the Bruins lead back to 15 points, 53-38 with 7:57 to go.

“I really wanted to dunk it because I remember we had that conversation at Mo Ostin but I slipped on a dead spot on the court so I was just hoping I could make the layup and finish it,” Andrews told the Southern California News Group. “Two points is two points right.”

Bona made two free throws to give UCLA a 60-43 lead with 4:45 to go. The Bruins, who shot 28.6% on 6 of 21 shooting in the second half, would go on to win 65-50, highlighted by a 43-29 rebounding advantage over 40 minutes.

“We all knew with time we’re going to come together,” Bona said. “We are the young guys, we have some experienced guys on the team.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity and we’ve been in a lot of close games at some point we’re going to have to learn from them. So I think we’re starting to learn from the close games, how to finish the game out, to close it out and I think we’re there now to be able to finish a close game out, to fight through adversity.”

INJURY REPORT

UCLA’s Williams replaced freshman forward Berke Buyuktuncel in the starting lineup against USC. Buyuktuncel, who did not play against the Trojans, is considered day-to-day with a left wrist injury.

Freshman guard Sebastian Mack was limited to 19 minutes, including less than seven minutes in the second half due to a toe injury.

UP NEXT 

UCLA will host Oregon State (11-9, 3-6 Pac-12) at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Exclusive: UCLA men’s basketball has arrived to Galen Center. #UCLA #UCLABasketball pic.twitter.com/aXeKr5dwww

— John W. Davis (@johnwdavis) January 27, 2024

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