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Some familiar mistakes doom UCLA

For the first time since USC's Galen Center opened in 2007, UCLA was unable to return to Westwood with a victory.

The Bruins can blame some of their familiar faults for that one.

UCLA committed 20 turnovers and missed half of its free throws (9-for-18) en route to a 68-64 loss at the hands of USC, which swept the regular season series for the first time since 2004. An inefficiency at the line and an inability to take care of the ball -- a deadly combination that has been the team's mantra during this rebuilding year -- cost them once again.

"We had our chances," coach Ben Howland said. "We were right there."

All of it piled up and snapped the Bruins' unblemished 3-0 record at the Trojans' state-of-the-art facility.

The score was closer than it should have been in large part to the Bruins' rebounding. UCLA held a 46-25 edge on the boards -- a staggering 21 of those coming on the offensive end.

The bright spot was tainted by the team's common woes, though. Afterward, no one seemed to have the words to explain what happened.

"The foul shooting was really frustrating because we spent a lot of time on it," said Howland, who has assigned a 100 free-throw per practice exercise to each player over the last month.

Senior Michael Roll -- who scored a team-high 21 points and made his three free throws -- couldn't find an answer.

"I wish I could tell you," he said with a visible shrug. "I would be a great coach if I could. I don’t know."

What about fellow senior Nikola Dragovic?

"It’s really, really hard to win a game like that,” said Dragovic, who added 12 but missed three of his four shots from the charity stripe.

Freshman Reeves Nelson, whose 126 free throw attempts lead the team, would surely have answer. He spends the most time at the line during games, so he would know, right?

"I have no clue," Nelson said. "I don’t know... Free throws are more mental than anything. I missed my two, so I can't really say anything."

When UCLA wasn't missing free throws, it was wasting possessions with weak passing and careless ball-handling. Sophomore point guard Malcolm Lee, who is still having a tough time adjusting to the position, had six of the team's 20 giveaways.