LOS ANGELES, Calif. – UCLA (11-12, 5-6) travels to crosstown rival USC (14-9, 7-4) for its lone game of the week on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 3:01 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks. The Bruin men will also be in Galen on Saturday to face the Trojans at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Galen Center
Arena Capacity: 10,258
Date: Feb. 8, 2014
Time: 3:01 p.m. (PT)
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Talent: Anne Marie Anderson (play-by-play), Mary Murphy (analyst)
Talent: Dave Marcus (play-by-play), Angel Gray (analyst)
Listen Online: www.uclabruins.com
UCLA VS. USC
This is the 82nd meeting between UCLA and USC with the Trojans leading the series 46-35. The Bruins have won six of the last nine meetings, including sweeping the Trojans last year in back-to-back games in a span of six days. The Bruins posted a 68-54 win at USC on Feb. 19 and then a 63-58 victory on Feb. 24 in Pauley Pavilion. In the win at USC, the Bruins led the entire way, cruising to a 27-point lead with seven minutes to go before the Trojans trimmed it to the final 14-point margin. USC shot just 28 percent from the floor, compared to UCLA’s 43 percent. The Bruins also won the battle of the boards, 49-40. The Bruins were led by Atonye Nyingifa’s game- and season-high 22 points (11-of-14 shooting). USC was led by Cassie Harberts, with 17 points and nine rebounds. The UCLA Bruins dropped their Pac-12 Conference opener to USC on Dec. 30, 2013. In a battle that came down to the final buzzer, the Trojans were victorious, 56-54 at Pauley Pavilion in front of 3,297. Ariya Crook led USC with 25 points and five rebounds while Atonye Nyingifa paced the Bruins with 20 points and eight boards.
UCLA erased a 13-point second-half (6:27) deficit to beat Oregon 88-83 on Jan. 17, 2014. It marked the third time this season that the Bruins have come back to win after trailing by double digits (down 14 to No. 10 Oklahoma in the first half and 12 to Grand Canyon in the second half).
Close encounters are becoming the norm this season. UCLA has won by single digits in nine of its 10 victories on the year while 10 of the last 14 games have been decided by single digits. Additionally, the Bruins are 6-3 in 2013-14 in games decided by five or fewer points.
With the Bruins’ 67-61 win at Arizona on Jan. 10, UCLA extended its winning streak against unranked opponents on the road to 12 games (descending chronological order): Arizona, Minnesota, San Diego State, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Washington State, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon, Pepperdine and St. John’s.
UCLA has lost three key players for the season as the Bruins will be without redshirt freshman Lauren Holiday (3.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) for the remainder of the year, as announced by Head Coach Cori Close last week. Holiday sustained a head injury at the end of the first half of the USC game (Dec. 30). She joins sophomore guard Kari Korver (4.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg) and junior forward Kacy Swain (3.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg) as players lost for the year. Both of them suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) within a week of each other. Korver also had a tear in her lateral meniscus. Freshman forward Paulina Hersler has yet to play this season due to a knee injury she sustained in Sweden before arriving in the United States.
NYINGIFA CLIMBING THE CHARTS
UCLA sixth-year senior Atonye Nyingifa is currently tied for 1st on the Bruins’ career list for games played with 130. That mark also ranks tied for third on the NCAA active career list. She is currently 14th on the Bruins’ career scoring list with 1,419 points (behind Necie Thompson - 1981-83 - 1,536), which ranks 61st on the NCAA active career list and sixth in the Pac-12. She is 5th in career rebounds (860, ranks 4th on the Pac-12 active career list). She needs 76 to pass Maylana Martin (935, 1997-2000) for 4th. She is 5th in free throws made (342), which ranks 38th on the NCAA active career charts and 7th in free throws attempted (496), which ranks 33rd on the NCAA active career chart.
ON THE TUBE
This year UCLA has the distinction of having the first televised conference game when they hosted USC (Dec. 30) and the last televised conference game on March 2, 2014 when they visit Utah (1:00 p.m.). The Bruins will be making a total of 18 television appearances, the most in school history, during the 2013-14 regular season.
UCLA was selected to finish fifth in both the Pac-12 conference’s preseason coaches and media polls. Stanford was picked to finish first, followed by California, Colorado and Washington. After the Bruins, USC was selected to finish sixth, followed by Utah and Oregon State.
The Bruins can boast of having one of the toughest schedules in the country as four of its nonconference games were against teams ranked in the top 12 (at #12/17 Nebraska, vs. #12/14 North Carolina, vs. #10/13 Oklahoma and at #4/5 Notre Dame). The Bruins’ nonconference strength of schedule ranked No. 3 in the country (tops in the Pac-12) and helped the Bruins to a No. 26 overall ranking in the RPI. Ten of the Bruins’ 12 nonconference opponents have a winning record and UCLA’s nonconference opponents are a combined 171-86 for a .665 winning percentage (Nebraska 16-5; Pepperdine 5-16; North Carolina 17-5; Oklahoma 14-9; James Madison 17-4; Grand Canyon 15-6; NC State 19-3; Notre Dame 21-0; San Diego State 8-11; Minnesota 14-9; Auburn 12-10 and Cal Poly 13-8).
UCLA forward Atonye Nyingifa (Torrance, Calif.) established or tied six career-highs in leading the Bruins to an 82-76 upset win over No. 10/13 Oklahoma at Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 24 and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week. Nyingifa tied her career-best with a game-high 28 points and career-bests in free throws made (12) and free throws attempted (15). She completed her second straight double-double against a ranked team with a career-high 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. The sixth-year senior also handed out a career-high six assists against the Sooners. The win over Oklahoma was UCLA’s 700th victory in program history.
In the Bruins’ 78-68 setback to No. 12 North Carolina, UCLA had three players record double-doubles (Atonye Nyingifa - 18 pts., 11 rebs.; Nirra Fields - 12 pts., 10 rebs.; Lauren Holiday - 10 pts., 11 rebs.). They became the first trio of Bruins to record a double-double in the same game in over 23 years. In a 79-65 home win over Oregon on Feb. 23, 1990, Sandra VanEmbricqs (22 pts., 14 rebs.), Michele Wooton (17 pts., 10 rebs.) and Rehema Stephens (12 pts., 10 rebs.) were the last to pull off that feat.
In UCLA’s 82-78 home win over Pepperdine (Nov. 11), the Bruins had three players score 20 or more points in the same game (Thea Lemberger 25 pts., Atonye Nyingifa 24 pts., Nirra Fields 20 pts.). It marked the first time since a 91-58 home win over Oregon State on Jan. 31, 2004 (Noelle Quinn 24 pts., Nikki Blue 23 pts., Lisa Willis 21 pts.) that that feat has been matched.
The Bruins duplicated that feat in the 96-89 win over Cal Poly (Dec. 28) when Nirra Fields (36 points), Thea Lemberger (23 points) and Atonye Nyingifa (23 points), combined to score 82 of UCLA’s 96 points.
In the win over Cal Poly, the Bruins had several great individual and team performances. The 96 points scored by UCLA in the win were the most in nearly four years or 125 games (defeated Oregon at home, 104-80, on Jan. 28, 2010). Senior forward Atonye Nyingifa was 11-for-18 from the free throw line. The 18 attempted free throws were a career-high and the second-most in school history (20, Necie Thompson, 2/18/83 vs. CS Fullerton, 11-for-20). Nirra Fields’ career-high of 36 points vs. the Mustangs were the most since Nikki Blue scored 36 against Arizona State on Mar. 5, 2005. The total is tied for the 11th-highest single game performance in UCLA history. Fields also made a career-high five three-pointers against Cal Poly.
In the 66-60 loss to Auburn (Dec. 21, 2013), the Bruins had two individual standout performances. Corinne Costa, who has the UCLA single-game record for blocks with seven, tied it for the third time against the Tigers. Nirra Fields also had a career-high eight steals, which was the most since Markel Walker had eight in a win over Hawai’i (Nov. 19, 2009).
BRUINS AND THE McDONALD'S ALL-AMERICAN GAME
Three Bruin signees, Recee’ Caldwell, Jordin Canada and Lajahna Drummer, were named to the 12-woman roster to represent the West in the 13th edition of the McDonald’s High School All-American Game. The three give UCLA the most players in the 2014 game and are the most to play in one game in school history. The three players are part of the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for the Bruins which consists of Canada (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward HS), Caldwell (San Antonio, Texas/FEAST), Drummer (Inglewood, Calif./Long Beach Poly), Kelli Hayes (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS) and Monique Billings (Corona, Calif./Santiago HS). The trio increases UCLA’s all-time roster in the McDonald’s All-American Game to 10 Bruins since its inception in 2002. Other Bruin alumni to play in the game are Nikki Blue (2002), Noelle Quinn (2003), Lindsey Pluimer (2004), Jasmine Dixon (2008), Alyssia Brewer (2008), Markel Walker (2009) and Nirra Fields (2012).
BRUINS IN NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS
UCLA ranks in the Top 100 in the country (out of 343 D-I teams) in four statistical categories, coming in at No. 40 in turnovers per game (13.9), No. 60 in turnover margin (2.70), No. 87 in personal fouls per game (17.7) and No. 86 in blocks per game (3.9). Two players rank in the Top 100 in the country as senior forward Atonye Nyingifa ranks No. 19 in double-doubles with 12 on the year (ranks third in the Pac-12), No. 41 in total points (414), No. 65 in steals per game (2.35 spg) and No. 83 in rebounds per game (9.0 rpg). Sophomore guard Nirra Fields ranks No. 57 in total points (395).
Head Coach Cori Close enters her third year with the Bruins after guiding UCLA to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year and a Pac-12 Tournament runner-up finish. She sports an overall record of 51-36 (.586).