USC basketball: More on the recent USC-UCLA hotel encounter in Eugene, Ore.
As my colleague Ben Bolch reported in Wednesday's editions of The Times, the UCLA and USC men's basketball teams shared the same hotel in Eugene, Ore., last weekend during their trips north to face Oregon and Oregon State.
And while at the hotel, there were an interesting exchange one night between Bruins freshman center Joshua Smith and USC Coach Kevin O'Neill.
As Bolch stated, Smith said O'Neill teased the big man about Smith's comments regarding USC's celebration in the final minute of the Trojans' 63-52 victory over the Bruins on Jan. 9, which Smith had called "a slap in the face."
"He was joking around, saying, 'Hey, I'll tell my guys not to celebrate next time,' " Smith told Bolch. "He's a cool guy."
O'Neill talked to me about the exchange after practice Wednesday morning, and said he had plenty of fun messing around with Smith. They first met when O'Neill was interim head coach at Arizona during the 2007-08 season and Smith, a McDonald's All-American, attended Arizona's elite camp.
Here's how O'Neill recounted one exchange with 6-foot-10, 305-pound Kent, Wash., native:
"Tell me you didn't give our crowd the finger," O'Neill said, laughing.
"Yeah, I did," Smith said. (Smith recently said he did it after a USC fan yelled an insult about Smith's family.)
"You can't do that, man," O'Neill said, laughing still.
"It was all joking stuff," O'Neill said, adding that he chatted in the lobby with Smith, Bruins forward Tyler Honeycutt and Bruins forward Reeves Nelson. "I thought those kids are really, really nice guys."
Photo: Joshua Smith. Credit: Richard Hartog /Associated Press.