LOS ANGELES -- Southern Cal coach George Raveling was startled yesterday morning when he saw that his 25th-ranked Trojans were listed as 15 1/2 -point underdogs in their game against second-ranked UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
"It really shook me a lot, because usually those guys are pretty close," Raveling said. 'I said, 'Man, we're going to get killed.' "
But the oddsmakers weren't close, and neither was Raveling.
USC built a 22-point lead and then withstood a furious, second-half rally by UCLA to upset the Bruins, 86-82, ending UCLA's bid for an unbeaten season, moving into a first-place tie with the Bruins in the Pacific 10 Conference and giving Raveling his first victory in Westwood after 16 losses.
In front of a sellout crowd of 12,842, USC increased its winning streak to six games. At 14-3, the Trojans are off to their best start since 1974-75. UCLA (14-1) was off to its best start in 19 years. The loss was the Bruins' first time since March, when it was upset by Penn State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
USC hadn't beaten a higher-ranked team since March 6, 1970, when it upset the top-ranked Bruins, 87-86, at Pauley Pavilion.
As surprising as the result was the way it was accomplished.
The Trojans were led by point guard Duane Cooper, who scored a game-high 23 points, made four of five three-point shots, made seven of 11 shots overall and had seven assists and two steals, and by center Yamen Sanders, who scored a career-high 20, took 10 rebounds and made seven of 11 shots.