3-Points: USC 63, UCLA 52

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The Trojans won their fourth straight game over their crosstown rivals. 

  • Shaun Brown was the unseen MVP tonight.  USC's new strength and conditioning coach paid dividends in the form of 38 extremely active minutes for Alex Stepheson, who pulled down 16 rebounds and dominated the paint down the stretch.  "Our weight coach Shaun Brown has stayed after me...and it's definitely paid off," Stepheson said.  Kevin O'Neill has admired Stepheson's courage all season playing with a broken hand, but without a cast tonight, Big Al was able to secure more big rebounds.  "Al's activity on the boards was the best it's been in a while," O'Neill said.  "Al worked his tail off all summer long."
  • Bryce Jones came in as a highly touted prospect, but he's hit some freshman frustration in this recent stretch.  However, O'Neill singled out the neophyte for praise after Jones stepped up in the clutch when Jio Fontan and Marcus Simmons were saddled with four fouls.  "He really played like a pro," said O'Neill.  "He played his minutes hard."  As a local kid, Jones was not going to miss a chance to put his stamp on the rivalry.  "From being a little kid growing up, watching it and wanting to play in it, it means a lot," Jones said.
  • Maurice Jones buzzed around defensively to snatch four steals.  Nikola Vucevic carried the offense by working over Reeves Nelson on the block.  Marcus Simmons held Tyler Honeycutt to 3/10 shooting and seven turnovers.  All good performances, but the sellout crowd earned game MVP honors.  "It was awesome to have the crowd we had," O'Neill said.  "The young guys feed off that energy."
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  • Kevin O'Neill is now 3-0 against UCLA as head coach at Troy.  "I guess that's important around here," he quipped.  "They are the benchmark that you measure yourself against.  When you beat UCLA, you beat tradition."

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