<
>

UCLA suffers its worst home loss to USC

For the first time in years, UCLA fans have consistently booed their basketball team this season.

It happened on opening night after the Bruins were stunned by Cal State Fullerton on national television.

It happened in late November after the Bruins dropped all three of their tournament games in the 76 Classic in Anaheim.

The same happened last month when UCLA lost by 18 to as 99-year-old John Wooden gazed down from his suite at the Honda Center.

And the boo birds rained onto Pauley Pavilion’s Nell & John Wooden Court on Saturday when UCLA suffered its worst home loss to cross-town rival USC.

Afterward, coach Ben Howland took sole responsibility.

“It starts here,” Howland said. “Obviously we were not well enough prepared for this game.”

After losing to Mississippi State in the Wooden Classic on Dec. 12, Howland extended an apology to the team’s fans and to Wooden himself. Saturday’s 67-46 loss to the Trojans clearly taints an already tough season.

“I’m embarrassed for our team,” Howland said. “I feel embarrassed for the program, the former players and coaches. It’s really all I can say about this. It was embarrassing.”

UCLA’s loss is also the worst to USC since the 1944-45 season (a 53-25 defeat at USC).

By the end of the second half, much of the 11,108 in attendance had filed out of Pauley. A disgruntled fan sitting on the concourse directly across from the UCLA bench wore a grocery bag on his head with the word “Bruins” scribbled on it. The letter B was crossed out, though.

“Now, whenever kids go through the media guide, they’re going to see this game in it,” freshman forward Reeves Nelson said without making eye contact with any reporters. “They’re going to see our names in the stat sheet. It’s not fun to lose by this much to your cross-town rival.”