“Bruin Killer” Boogie Ellis Throttles UCLA

The Trojans avenged their rivalry loss from January on Saturday, blitzing UCLA with 10 consecutive points to start the second half for a 62-56 victory at Pauley Pavilion. 

USC (11-16, 5-11 Pac-12) won its first game at Pauley Pavilion since 2021 and coach Andy Enfield moved into a tie for third on the program’s all-time wins list with his 216th victory.

That life, for years, has been carefully constructed on routine — staying later than anyone else in cardinal and gold after practices, honing his shot relentlessly, grinding in the summers. When routine doesn’t lead to results, negativity seeps into Ellis’ worldview, easy to see across the past month as USC’s season has slipped away. I’m pretty hard on myself, Ellis mumbled after Thursday’s practice; whichever way the ball bounces affects his very state of being, and it has bounced too often away in Ellis’ last year at USC.

“But you gotta stay strong,” Ellis said Thursday, stoic. “Keep pushing.”

He pushed from the very tip at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night, potentially his final game against bitter rival UCLA in a standout USC career. At numerous points where it seemed USC could bend to the point of breaking, through an end-of-first-half implosion and late sloppiness, he and fellow captain Kobe Johnson (0) held the Trojans together in a 62-56 win — Ellis finishing with 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting, authoring one final performance as the Mick Cronin-described “Bruin killer.”

“Just using all these games to get us ready for the Pac-12 tournament. We know we have to win out there,” said Ellis.

After making a habit of ceding leads this season, USC gave up another double-digit advantage but responded by forcing 12 UCLA turnovers in the second half and holding the Bruins (14-13, 9-7) to 33.3% shooting from the field.

The loss, UCLA’s second consecutive at home following a heartbreaker to Utah at the buzzer last Sunday, knocked the Bruins off the NCAA tournament bubble for good, barring a championship run in the conference tournament. Already long out of the NCAA tournament picture, the rivalry win helps USC continue to build momentum with a finally healthy roster.

There was little left to play for, really, on Saturday night for Ellis and USC besides simple pride. In September, his first time speaking to media in a new year, Ellis rationalized his reason for a return as a super-senior as “the opportunity to win a national championship,” a dream that’s been dashed for months. USC’s only shot at March dwindled to a run through the Pac-12 tournament as Ellis was beset by a variety of injuries, most notably a hamstring issue in mid-January, knocking him out for a few games and leaving him hobbled for weeks even when he did return.

“He came back, he looked older than me trying to play,” head coach Andy Enfield cracked postgame Saturday.

A sense of urgency rippled through his jabs and cuts off screens against UCLA (14-13, 9-7 in Pac-12), perhaps a USC senior realizing just a few games remained until his draft stock was fully solidified, perhaps a USC senior who simply wanted to beat UCLA for what could be the last time. Ellis flared off one first-half screen on an inbound, fading and falling to his right, draining a triple in a shot reminiscent of Damian Lillard’s best work. He flew down the lane a possession later, lofting a floater to force a goaltend from UCLA’s Adem Bona, Bruins coach Mick Cronin so incensed he immediately signaled for a timeout.

With five minutes left in the half, big Vincent Iwuchukwu — who left his own mark warding off Bona all night — glanced over at the scoreboard. Ellis had 17. That’s a quiet 17, Iwuchukwu recalled thinking.

“But man, Boogie’s impact is so much bigger than just the offense,” Iwuchukwu said postgame.

It was felt in the locker room, after USC (11-16, 5-11 in Pac-12) closed the first half horribly, their bigs falling into foul trouble as UCLA mounted a 17-4 run before the break. Ellis, understanding these Trojans have too often faltered when teams made runs, told guys to focus on getting quality shots in the second half, he said.

And it was felt in Ellis’ demeanor in the second half, scoring just six points on a variety of layups but gritting tough in helping USC ward off the Bruins in an ugly final frame. He finished with five boards, tying for a USC game high on a team that’s struggled massively to rebound, going into a throng and simply ripping the ball away from the Bruins early in the second half.

“I’ve let my team down this year when it comes to rebounding … coming here forward, I’m going to try to really emphasize helping out on the boards,” Ellis said postgame, ever-quick to pin blame on his own shoulders.

And when his shot fell short at times in the second half, co-captain Kobe Johnson stepped up, nabbing a key handful of second-half steals and hitting a massive corner three to put USC up 11 with three minutes to play. It was enough to escape with a win, Ellis’ first against UCLA at Pauley in his USC career. And a season of grit, for one moment, had paid off.

“I’m glad,” Ellis said postgame, “that I’m back to myself.”

latimes.com/ocregister.com

___________

TrojanDailyBlog members —  We always encourage you to add factual information, insight, divergent opinions, or new topics to the TDB that don’t necessarily pertain to any particular moderator post or member comment.

 

 

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Fighton74
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Fighton74
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March 2, 2024 9:30 am

Manziel says he’s not participating in anymore in Heisman meetings until Bush is given he’s Heisman back…lol Well I would hope so lol because you got away with far more violations of NCAA rules than Bush did. Funny how it’s ok for Manziel, and it was ok for Urban Meyer at Florida as well, but it’s not ok for USC. It’s ok of course at Ohio St too. And I’m pretty sure Saban doesn’t build a dynasty at Alabama without going against NCAA violations. Just saying!

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.
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February 28, 2024 5:48 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I see the Falcons continue to double down on stupid by wasting another first round pick on a receiver. Unless you think you are getting Jerry Rice, there are plenty of receivers to go around. The NFL is a QB and OL league. But the Falcons have never been a smart franchise…. Go Rams! Go Chargers!

Golden Trojan
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February 27, 2024 11:59 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hoge seems to have the contrarian opinion of everybody else.

Steveg
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Steveg
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February 27, 2024 7:03 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

He sounds like an idiot. Maybe to much head injury.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.
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February 28, 2024 5:51 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Chicago. Another Stupid Franchise. They haven’t been great since the mid-80’s. Poor Caleb. I hope I am wrong.

Golden Trojan
Major Genius
February 27, 2024 11:57 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I would guess the top 10 picks know the team that wants them. Maybe one other team is in the mix. Those further down the line need to impress as many teams as possible in one place. Does make the combine less of a “show” for TV. Then again why should it?

Steveg
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Steveg
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February 27, 2024 8:22 am

As USC gears up for spring ball we finally will have something to talk about besides dumb polls, recruits, and lawsuits. I think there is going to be a huge battle for the starting QB job. Moss and Maiava are both pretty darn good, and right now I think Moss will prevail mostly based on his experience in the LR system. Maiava will come along as fall camp starts so it could get exciting. I sure hope Jake gets to make another great run for 1 yard this next season.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.
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February 28, 2024 5:56 am
Reply to  Steveg

And we won’t have to pay attention to or act like we care about Mens Basketball anymore….

It would be nice if some day the football and basketball teams were both really great. Ain’t happening with Andy. Hope it will happen with LR.

Steveg
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Steveg
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February 26, 2024 2:21 pm

Sounds as though the ncaa is going to let schools implement technology, finally. Coaches will have comms with the QB and possibly one on defense, and they are actually going allow tablets on the sidelines. But of course the ncaa is so far behind the times they just cannot seem to get the final okay yet. Clowns.

RialtoTrojan
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RialtoTrojan
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February 26, 2024 5:55 pm
Reply to  Steveg

The NCAA has been made irrelevant by the courts and schools. I wonder why they still exist.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.
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February 27, 2024 5:45 am
Reply to  RialtoTrojan

RT, I think your answer may be that the ncaa controls March Madness and the large pot of gold that comes with it. It doesn’t equal what Football produces dollar-wise, but it is still a significant source of power and relevance. But they are still nothing but a performance of many Klowns in a VW–like in the circus.

2manyyears
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2manyyears
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February 26, 2024 7:06 pm
Reply to  Steveg

That is an excellent step into the 21st century by the NCAA. That should also help LR get the initial play in faster because he does like to change it 3 times before the snap.
Steveg clowns don’t deserve that criticism. They serve a purpose. The NCAA doesn’t, never has and never will. 😉

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.
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February 27, 2024 5:46 am
Reply to  2manyyears

Very good point, 2 many years, about the ncaa.

Steveg
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Steveg
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February 27, 2024 8:17 am
Reply to  2manyyears

The words I wanted to use would get me kicked off of here so clowns was what came out. I do agree with you completely.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.
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February 27, 2024 5:48 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Damn! I remember that headline–back in the days had a world class sports section…..

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.
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February 27, 2024 7:42 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

back in the day when the LA Times had a world class sports section. my fingers did not type as fast as my thoughts

Trojan5
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Trojan5
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February 25, 2024 7:24 pm

Does anyone know wha is happening with Greg Katz of WeAreSC? He hasn’t been on Inside the Trojan Huddle or posted any articles for a few weeks now. Hoping he is on vacation and nothing is wrong.

Steveg
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Steveg
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February 26, 2024 2:17 pm
Reply to  Trojan5

I think Katz has a medical issue and will be out a while.

Trojan5
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Trojan5
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February 26, 2024 2:46 pm
Reply to  Steveg

Thanks Steve

Golden Trojan
Major Genius
February 25, 2024 5:15 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Juju gets another 30 for the all time freshman scoring record. Marshall and Padilla were Red hot Friday night, but Ice cold Sunday afternoon.

Golden Trojan
Major Genius
February 25, 2024 9:11 am

Jen Cohen, this win is not good enough for Andy Enfield to keep his job.

Steveg
Noble Genius
Steveg
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February 25, 2024 10:19 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Holy cow, did she really say that?

Golden Trojan
Major Genius
February 25, 2024 10:47 am
Reply to  Steveg

No quotations, my advice to her. 😉