LOS ANGELES (AP)—For the first time this season, No. 18 UCLA played 40 minutes of stifling defense. The reward was a one-sided victory.
Jordan Farmar scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half of a 66-45 victory over crosstown rival Southern California on Wednesday night.
“Jordan is one of our top scorers. When he’s in double digits, this team is going to be that much better,” said Arron Afflalo, who added 11 points.
The Trojans scored their fewest points in the series since 1969, when they won 46-44 at Pauley Pavilion. The margin of victory equaled last year’s 90-69 win by UCLA.
“We probably played the way our preseason prognostications were,” said USC coach Tim Floyd, whose team was picked to finish near the bottom of the Pac-10. “We’re not that bad. They were really focused on defense. They didn’t let us do anything.”
The Bruins (15-3, 5-2) extended their conference lead to one game over No. 10 Washington, California, Oregon and Stanford, all tied for second.
UCLA was coming off a 69-65 loss to Washington at home, a game the Bruins led by 12 points at halftime.
“We learned from that mistake,” Farmar said. “At halftime, guys were looking at each other, saying, `No joking, stay serious and don’t let it happen again.”’
Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 10 points for UCLA, which limited the Trojans to 13 field goals in the game. He got hit in the right shin, but kept on playing.
The Trojans (12-6, 3-4) lost for the third time in four games.
“We lost our poise,” Floyd said. “They did a better job in all areas. They put great pressure on us, we started making casual passes, one-handed passes.”
Reserve Dwayne Shackleford led USC with a career-tying 12 points, 10 in the second half. The trio of Gabe Pruitt, Lodrick Stewart and Nick Young were held to a combined 17 points. They had averaged 46.6 points this season. Young played the second half in foul trouble.
“He’s very good,” Afflalo said of Pruitt, his former high school teammate. “Those stats don’t tell it all about him. He had a rough shooting night.”
UCLA won its third straight over the Trojans, having swept the series last season after losing four in a row.
Mindful of USC’s upset loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl national championship football game, UCLA fans mocked Trojan fans by flashing “hook ‘em horns” signs and chanting expletives.
“It was very exciting,” said Mbah a Moute, a Cameroon native experiencing the heated rivalry for the first time. “Our students did a great job pumping us up.”
Even with its lineup decimated by injuries, the Bruins used a size advantage and aggressive defense to put the game away in the first half.
The Bruins burst out of the gate on an 18-2 run, getting four 3-pointers in the spurt, three by Farmar. They kept it up and led 29-7 on a 3-pointer by Michael Roll off a steal and pass by Farmar.
“I did a lot of extra shooting this week in practice,” said Farmar, who had been kept out of practice the last couple weeks because of a nagging ankle injury. “I was looking to be aggressive.”
After that, the Trojans outscored the Bruins 12-10, but trailed 39-19 at halftime. USC committed 12 turnovers and shot 27 percent in the half.
UCLA started three freshmen and two sophomores because of injuries to Josh Shipp, Lorenzo Mata and Cedric Bozeman.
Things got worse for USC in the second half.
Trailing 45-23, the Trojans’ Ryan Francis was called for a foul. Floyd, coaching his first game in the rivalry, angrily tossed a crumpled piece of paper, then kicked it under the bench for a technical. Afflalo made both free throws and Ryan Hollins dunked, stretching UCLA’s lead to 49-23.
Young’s dunk off an alley-oop pass gave USC fans a rare chance to cheer. Then, UCLA scored six straight for a 55-26 lead. After Afflalo and Darren Collison each missed, Mbah a Moute grabbed the rebound and scored inside.