Friday, December 22, 2000
BYUHThe best men's basketball team from the Los Angeles area so far this season is in town. And it's apparently not UCLA.
The No. 13 Trojans stay
undefeated with an easy
win over the Seasiders
By Brandon Lee
Special to the Star-Bulletin
The team's head coach, Henry Bibby, starred as a point guard for the Bruins as a member of three national championship teams in the '70s under legendary coach John Wooden.
Ironically, Bibby now coaches UCLA's most bitter rival -- Southern California.
Bibby and the Trojans entered Brigham Young-Hawaii's Yahoo! Sports Invitational undefeated and ranked 13th in the country.
Their perfect season continued last night with an 86-74 victory over tournament host BYUH before 1,201 fans at the Cannon Activities Center in Laie in the late game of yesterday's opening round.
Brian Scalabrine led three Trojans in double-figures with a game-high 28 points. Brian Skinner had a team-high 22 points for the Seasiders in defeat.
BYUH (5-1) started the game with three consecutive 3-pointers and led for much of the first half. The much bigger and more athletic Trojans (8-0) eventually took their first lead, 28-25, with just under five minutes to play until intermission.
It was a lead USC never surrendered, despite several runs by the Seasiders in the second half.
"Their size and quickness caught up to us," BYUH head coach Ken Wagner said of the Trojans. "They're awfully good. They're quick, they're big, they can shoot and they deserve to be ranked."
USC has not played Pac-10 rival UCLA yet this year. But the Trojans did defeat Cal-State Northridge, a fellow L.A.-area team that managed to get by what so far has been a mediocre 3-3 Bruins squad.
With five returning starters on this year's team, USC is expected to succeed well beyond its neighbors. The Trojans should contend for the Pac-10 title and could potentially make a deep run in the NCAA tournament if they continue to improve.
Still, the comparison with UCLA is inevitable considering the historical rivalry between the institutions in all sports. And even more so, with Bibby having played for the Bruins.
Yet the former Bruins floor general and current Trojans coach tries to deflect such a comparison.
"We know we have a big target on our chests now as a highly-ranked team, but we're taking the season one game at a time and we're not trying to compare ourselves with UCLA," Bibby said.
And as for where his loyalties lie, Bibby said: "I'm with SC now and I'm extremely happy; I have no feelings toward UCLA. USC gave me the opportunity (five seasons ago) and UCLA didn't. I bleed cardinal and gold now, not blue and gold."
Despite the current status of the two teams, Bibby acknowledged that the Trojans still have much room for improvement as both a squad and program. He also said that he is committed to seeing this improvement through.
"We haven't played to our potential yet this season," Bibby said.
"My intention is to build this program a foundation because it hasn't been built before. I'm in for the long-run to make this a quality program."
Up next for USC is No. 24 Mississippi in the second round of the tournament today. BYUH has a consolation-bracket game against Southern Illinois.
In the rest of yesterday's action, Mississippi defeated Southern Illinois, 70-66, Iowa St. downed Troy State, 66-56 and Brigham Young-Provo beat Boise St., 83-67.
Mississippi 70, Southern Illinois 66: At Laie, David Sanders scored six of his 15 points in the final two minutes as No. 24 Mississippi won its first round game at the Yahoo! Sports Invitational and extended its winning streak to 10 games.
Aaron Harper also scored 15 points for the Rebels. Jason Flanigan added 13 and Jason Harrison had 10.
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