USC beats Cal 82-74 to end 2-game skid with Bronny James making key defensive play

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Thursday, January 4, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- - Bronny James is finding his way three games into Pac-12 play.

The Southern California freshman scored 10 points off the bench to go with three assists, two rebounds and a steal in an 82-74 win over California on Wednesday night.

In just his second home game since making his collegiate debut on Dec. 10, James came up with a big defensive rebound with 2.7 seconds remaining, got fouled and made both free throws to seal the win that snapped the Trojans' two-game skid. He didn't speak to reporters afterward.

"He's starting to be more confident as a player and he's starting to play his game," teammate Kobe Johnson said. "When he first got back he was on a minute restriction and he was kind of antsy about what to do, but now he's starting to get into his groove."

James came back in with 1:27 remaining for defensive purposes. He had multiple deflections earlier.

"He's very active with his feet and his hands," USC coach Andy Enfield said. "He's strong and he anticipates well. He played a very good game on both sides."

Boogie Ellis led the Trojans with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Johnson added 14 points, tying his career high with four 3-pointers, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Trojans (7-7, 1-2 Pac-12) avoided losing their first three league games since the 2014 season. They had dropped five of six, but beat the Golden Bears for the 11th straight time.

Cal (4-10, 0-3) trailed by 17 points in the second half before getting within five on Jaylon Tyson's dunk after DJ Rodman's turnover, capping a 5-0 run.

Tyson's 3-pointer cut the Bears' deficit to 78-74 with 29 seconds left. But he missed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds to go and Ellis came up with the rebound.

Tyson led the Bears with 23 points.

Cal has dropped 19 straight Pac-12 games since beating Stanford on Jan. 6, 2023, and 24 straight road league games since Feb. 12, 2022.

James has yet to crack the starting lineup in his six games so far as he works his way back after suffering cardiac arrest in late July. He made a bad pass inbounding the ball and then got called for a foul right after being USC's third sub into the game midway through the first half.

He scored six points playing eight minutes in the half, highlighted by a two-handed dunk off Isaiah Collier's steal and pass. James' jumper keyed a 7-0 run that ended the Trojans' scoring going into the break with a 37-29 lead.

James scored a career-high 15 points while playing a season-high 20 minutes in a loss at Oregon State last weekend.


Cal: The Bears have been coming close, with six of their 10 losses by three points or fewer or ending in overtime. First-year coach Mark Madsen, the former Stanford and two-time NBA champion with the Lakers, dipped into the transfer portal to land Fardaws Aimaq, who played two years for him at Utah Valley. Aimaq was held to seven points, under his 16.4 point average, eight rebounds and eight assists.

USC: The Trojans were back home after playing four straight road games for the first time since the 2002 season. It seemed to do the trick behind a vocal crowd.


California: Visits UCLA on Saturday.

USC: Hosts Stanford on Saturday.


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