In a defensive battle, UCLA leads USC at halftime, 30-28
UCLA and USC are both playing high-level, competitive basketball at the Galen Center on Sunday night, and at halftime of a back-and-forth, defense-minded battle, the Bruins lead, 30-28.
USC led, 10-4, with 15 minutes 21 seconds left in the first half after back-to-back three-point shots from guards Jio Fontan and Marcus Simmons.
But UCLA took its first lead, 22-21, with 7:50 left when Bruins forward Reeves Nelson drove for a layup.
Nelson hit his first five shots and has a game-high 12 points on five-for-seven shooting. Fontan was called for an intentional foul after he raked Nelson's arms on a wide-open fastbreak layup attempt with 4:20 left.
The usually near-empty Galen Center is packed. But surprisingly, it is with USC fans, who seemingly materialized out of thin air to give the Trojans a strong home-court advantage.
Strangely, the number of UCLA fans in attendance is pretty sparse.
UCLA junior guard Lazeric Jones, playing in his first game since rupturing a tendon in his right middle finger against Washington, appears to still be limited by his injury.
He missed his first four shots and has two points at halftime.
USC is shooting 41.4% (12 for 29), but it has missed nine of 12 from three-point range and five of six from the free-throw line.
UCLA is shooting 12 for 21 (57.1%), but it has missed all five of its free-throw attempts.
The Bruins have nine turnovers, the Trojans have five.
The much-anticipated inside battle between USC's Alex Stepheson and Nikolva Vucevic and UCLA's Nelson and Joshua Smith has been a stalemate so far.
Stepheson has five points and six rebounds, and Vucevic has a team-high eight points for USC. Nelson has 12 points for UCLA and Smith has four.
-- Baxter Holmes