Culver City Observer -

By Steve Finley
Sports Editor 

Rivalries take on different meanings in college sports

 

February 4, 2021

Lakers

Laker guard Alex Caruso continues to make plays coming off the bench for the Lakers.

There is nothing like rivalries in college sports. UCLA against USC and Ohio State versus Michigan are two of the most famous rivalries in college. In professional sports you can mention the Lakers and the Celtics, Dodgers and Giants but if those teams are not winning the intensity of the rivalry drops down a notch. When UCLA and USC lock horns it's always special regardless of the team's records.

On Saturday, the Bruins and Trojans men's basketball teams will battle on USC's home court at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN or ESPN2. Both teams are playing at a high level and the game has first place implications. If USC wins they will tie the Bruins for first place in the Pac-12 and if the UCLA wins they will move ahead by two games. UCLA has an overall record of 13-3 and a conference record of 9-1. USC is 14-3 and 8-2.

The No. 21 Bruins are led by seven or eight players that can help them win games, but their top three scorers are Jamie Jaquez Jr., Johnny Juzang and Tyger Campbell. Jaquez Jr. is averaging 12.6 points per game, Juzang is at 11.9 and Campbell is averaging 11.5. Other Bruins that are having good seasons are Jalen Clark, Jules Bernard, Cody Riley, Jake Kyman, Jalen Hill and David Singleton.

UCLA head coach Mick Cronin and his coaching staff are still winning despite losing to their best player, Chris Smith a few weeks ago. Smith injured his knee. They are stressing team basketball and defense.

USC head coach and his coaching staff have one of the best players in college basketball in freshman Evan Mobley. He is averaging 16.8 points per game and nine rebounds per game. In a win against Stanford last Tuesday on the road he scored 23 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.

Other players that are getting the job done for the Trojans are Drew Peterson, Tahi Eaddy, Evan's older brother Isaiah Mobley, Max Agbonkpolo, Chevez Goodwin, Noah Bateman, Isaiah White and Ethan Anderson.

The Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA will look like a totally team in 2021 because they lost two of their top three players to free agency. Candance Parker, who played for the team for 13 years will be playing for the Chicago Sky and All-Star point guard signed with the Las Vegas Aces last Monday. Can the Sparks survive a double hit and why did they leave?

Speaking of hits the Rams traded away their quarterback, Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stanford. The Rams also gave up several draft choices to get Stanford. Those of us who follow the Rams knew head coach Sean McVay and their general manager Les Snead were starting to lose faith in Goff because of his inconsistent play over the past two seasons but trading him for a 33-year-old quarterback seems a little risky.

USC

USC's super freshman and the rest of the Trojans will battle UCLA for first place in the Pac-12 on Saturday at home at 7 p.m.

The Lakers are back home after two weeks on the road. Currently they are tied for first place in the Western Conference with the Clippers with a record of 16-6. They play four home games in a row at the Staples Center against Detroit on Saturday at 7 p.m., Oklahoma City on Monday at 7 p.m., Oklahoma City again on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Memphis on Friday at 7 p.m.

They were 5-2 on the recent road trip and they were led by their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis but several role players stepped up, especially on defense. One of those players was Alex Caruso. The 6'5 guard made the play of the game against Boston last Saturday when he sprinted down the court during the final seconds of a close game and got between a Celtic player and the basket to prevent him from shooting a game winning shot.

The Lakers continue to look like the best team in the NBA, but the Clippers and the Nets are not far behind. It is still early and injuries and the coronavirus can change the outcome of the season.

 

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