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Three takeaways from USC’s upset of No. 8 UCLA

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Shaqquan Aaron scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half and USC hit 14 threes as a team as the Trojans knocked off No. 8 UCLA in the Galen Center on Wednesday night, 84-76.

USC jumped out to a 50-38 halftime lead and never let the Bruins get within four points in the second half.

Elijah Stewart and Deanthony Melton were sensational, finishing with a combined 26 points, 13 boards, nine assists and seven steals in the win while Chimezie Metu added 13 points, seven boards and a pair of thunderous dunks for the Trojans.

UCLA’s perimeter defense continued to be an issue, but the more surprising concern for this team: They shot really poorly from beyond the arc for the second straight game while Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s all-american candidate, had seven of the team’s 17 turnovers.

Here are three things we learned in USC’s win:

1. USC needed this win badly: The Trojans started out the season strong, winning their first 14 games of the year, which included a trip to Texas A&M, a win over SMU at home and knocking off BYU on a neutral court. Doing it all while starting power forward Bennie Boatwright was injured only added to the optimism. But once Andy Enfield’s club got into the throes of Pac-12 play, once their schedule started to strengthen, the going was quite so easy. Entering Wednesday night, USC was 4-4 in league play, but those four wins came against Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona State and Colorado, none of whom will be confused with a tournament team this season.

USC was smoked at Oregon. They were smoked at Utah. They needed a wild rally in a loss against Arizona at home to avoid getting smoked. That’s what makes this win so important. It’s not only a résumé-booster, but it’s the kind of performance that can build the confidence of a team that was struggling with it.

2. UCLA still isn’t getting stops: Entering Wednesday, the Bruins ranked 125th nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric after giving up 96 points to Arizona. Things weren’t much better for the Bruins in the first half against USC, as they game up 50 points in 39 possessions, getting lit up by a series of straight-line drives, kick-outs to open shooters and ball-screen actions. We wrote on Tuesday that the Bruins are no longer a Final Four contender if they cannot figure out their defensive woes. As of Wednesday night, the Bruins had not figured out their defensive woes.

3. And they’ve apparently forgotten how to shoot the ball: The Bruins are one of the best three-point shooting teams we’ve seen in recent college basketball history. Entering Wednesday night, UCLA was shooting 43.4 percent from beyond the arc, a number that ranks second nationally, but their ability to reel on 19 threes in a game – like they did earlier this season – is what makes them so lethal. When they get into a rhythm like that, it doesn’t matter how bad their defense is. They have the firepower to win anyway.

In these two most recent losses, the Bruins have not shot the ball well at all from the perimeter. Against Arizona, they were 10-for-31 from three. Against USC, they were 6-for-21. If UCLA cannot get stops and they are not making threes, they’re not going to be winning all that often.

The other concerning aspect about their offense on Wednesday night was that the Bruins really seemed to struggle against the 2-3 zone that USC played. They committed 13 first half turnovers and finished with 17 turnovers for the game. With shooters everywhere on the floor and as many as three point guards on the court at the same time, it’s unacceptable for a team as talented as UCLA to have those kind of issues against zone.

VIDEO: LaVar Ball gets female ref replaced after threatening to pull team from court

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A female referee was removed from a Big Ballers game after LaVar Ball threatened to pull his team from the court for the second time in a week.

The referee called Ball for a technical foul, which sparked the confrontation, but both Ball and an adidas rep told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello that the reason the ref was pulled was because she and Ball had a previous issue:

Before the game was over, Ball would receive a second technical foul and the game was eventually called with two minutes left and Big Ballers losing by 10.

Western Kentucky’s five-star recruit Mitchell Robinson has left campus

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The soap opera that has been Mitchell Robinson’s tenure at Western Kentucky took another on Friday, as the five-star center and top ten prospect in the Class of 2017 has reportedly left campus.

Robinson was a massive coup for Rick Stansbury when he committed to and signed for the Hilltoppers, but it has been non-stop drama since then. Less than two weeks after his commitment, Robinson tweeted that he would be decommitting from WKU before immediately deleting the tweet and claiming that his account was hacked. Robinson did not attend the first session of summer school on campus, and he was in class in the second summer school session and reportedly practicing with the team this month for a trip to Costa Rica, but he cleaned out his dorm room and left the campus last night.

Part of the reason that Robinson opted to go to Western Kentucky was that his godfather, former UNC star Shammond Williams, was an assistant coach on the staff. Williams left the program on July 3rd, and ever since then there have been questions surrounding where Robinson will play this season. There have been rumors that he will be heading overseas for a year before entering the 2018 NBA Draft, and there is also the potential that Robinson could end up transferring to a different college.

The question, however, is whether or not Robinson will be able to transfer and play immediately without sitting out a year since he enrolled in summer school.

Robinson is a 7-foot center and a terrific defensive prospect that is projected as a first round pick next year. If he does get a waiver to transfer, he immediately becomes the best available talent on the market, along with Marvin Bagley III, who is considering reclassifying.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.