UCLA guard Tyger Campbell (10) drives on Arizona guard James Akinjo during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Tucson, Ariz. UCLA won 81-76. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
- No. 21 UCLA and USC will meet for first place in the Pac-12 Conference at the Trojans’ Galen Center at 10pm ET Saturday
- USC ranks sixth in NCAA Division I in field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to 38.18 shooting from the field
- Check the odds, analysis and our betting prediction below
Cross-town rivals No. 21 UCLA (13-3, 9-1 Pac-12) and USC (14-3, 8-2) will meet for the first time this season with the league lead on the line at USC at 10 pm ET. These players have seen each other before — each school has 10 natives of California on its roster.
UCLA vs USC Odds, Lines and Spread
|UCLA Bruins||N/A||+3 (-110)||O 135.5 (-110)|
|USC Trojans||N/A||-3 (-110)||U 135.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb 5th from William Hill
UCLA is 9-1 in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2007-08 and has won 16 of its last 18 league games, the first of the losses at USC last year. The Trojans have won nine of their last 10 and were 8-1 in January, their best record in any month since January, 2002. USC received the 27th-most votes in the AP poll this week.
Arizona State and UCLA Favorites in Opening Odds to Win Pac-12 in 2020-21 Season
USC Is Led By Evan Mobley, the Potential No. 1 Pick in the NBA Draft
Evan Mobley, a 7-foot freshman from Murrieta, Calif., has been a major factor in the Trojans’ success on both ends of the floor, as befitting his high draft projection. Mobley and Oklahoma State freshman guard Cade Cunningham are considered the likely 1-2 picks in the 2021 NBA draft.
Mobley is averaging 16.8 points and 9.0 rebounds a game while shooting 58 percent from the field. He has eight double-doubles and is averaging 2.88 blocked shots per game, which is 11th in NCAA Division I and second among freshmen.
Mobley’s length and athleticism have helped USC in every phase, especially in the paint. The Trojans are limiting opponents to a 38.8 percent field goal percentage and have a plus-8.2 rebound margin is 18th in Division I. They have outscored foes by 592-402 in the paint, an average of about 11 points per game. USC has 97 blocked shots, sixth in Division I with 5.7 blocks per game.
The Trojans’ plus-11.7 scoring margin is 31st in Division I, eighth among Power 6 conference teams, and the school’s highest margin since Paul Westphal’s 1970-71 team finished at plus-14.
UCLA Has Some Size of Its Own to Combat Evan Mobley
UCLA’s post players, 6-19 Cody Riley and 6-10 Jalen Hill, average 17.1 points and 11.9 rebounds a game while splitting time — they average a combined 40.7 minutes per game. Riley has four double-doubles.
“We’ve got to worry about ourselves, first, and stick to our principles, defensively and offensively. And then on gameday, we’ll have reminders of their tendencies that our coaches have found in film, and we’ll go with that.”
Cody Riley, on scouting USC’s team pic.twitter.com/rKa4YCwmJu
— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) February 3, 2021
The Bruins have played through the season-ending injury to leading scorer forward Chris Smith (12.6 points), going 7-1 in his absence with a lineup that includes sophomore point guard Tyger Campbell and 6-6 wing players Jaime Jaquez Jr., Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard.
Six Bruins have led the team in scoring this season. Campbell leads the Pac-12 with 6.1 assists per game, 16th in Division I and third among Power 6 players.
By the Numbers
UCLA was a spread darling from the midway point of coach Mick Cronin’s first season in 2019-20 through the first half of this season, but it has fallen on hard times recently as the oddsmakers have reacted.
The Bruins were 9-3 against the spread this year after beating Washington State following a sweep on the Arizona road trip, but they have failed to cover the last four, all as a favorite. They are 2-4 against the spread on the road but have won their only game as a road underdog, beating Arizona 81-76 as a 3.5-point dog. UCLA is 10-6 going over the total, 5-2 in its last seven.
USC is 10-7 against the number and has been over in five of its last six. The Trojans are 3-2 as a home favorite in Pac-12 play.
Evan Mobley is producing with consistency for @USC_Hoops.
At his height; the footwork, fluidity, hands & touch from both deep & inside are impressive. He mindset exudes confident humility. @roxybernstein gives his ranking & @Mike_Schmitz with his draft status. pic.twitter.com/decgzBMEK1
— Paul Biancardi (@PaulBiancardi) February 4, 2021
UCLA had a seven-game winning streak broken in a 73-72 overtime loss at Stanford as a six-point favorite on Jan, 23. USC won at Stanford 72-66 as a three-point favorite last Tuesday.
Both teams play at an efficiently slow pace. USC averages 67.8 possessions every 40 minutes, which is 214th in the Ken Pom rankings, but is 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency.. UCLA averages only 63.9 possessions, 343rd of the 357 teams in NCAA Division 1, but ranks 14th in offensive efficiency.
USC is one of nine teams ranked in KenPom’s top 25 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Freeway Series Has Been One of Streaks
USC has won the last two games and three of the lsat four, its only loss coming in overtime in Pauley Pavilion in 2019. Wins came in bunches before that — the Bruins won the previous, USC won the four before that and UCLA won the six before that. Each of those streaks included a victory in the Pac-12 tournament.
The Trojans have won four of the last five against the Bruins at the Galen Center and are 3-2 against the spread. UCLA lost 54-52 last season at Galen on a 3-pointer at the buzzer but covered as a 2.5-point underdog.
The Pick: UCLA +3 (-110)
Jack has covered college and professional sports for various Arizona media outlets and has written for the AP, USA Today and Baseball America, among others. He staffed the 2015-17 World Series and has staffed four Super Bowls.