There was nothing like a little lip service to wake up UCLA's basketball team.
So Steve Alford took a page from the coaching handbook at halftime.
"We got chewed out," guard Jordan Adams said.
Maybe Alford should have done that with his pregame speech.
The Bruins found another gear in the second half — at least for seven minutes — and carved out an 83-73 victory over USC in the Galen Center.
A win over the Pac-12's last-place team is considered a formality. But for the Bruins (18-5 overall, 7-3 in Pac-12 play) it was like group therapy.
"We felt like we have been playing soft," guard Norman Powell said. "We had a lot of defensive lapses."
This was different, at least in the second half.
"To win games on the road, you have to do it defensively," Powell said.
The Bruins put together a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance — mild-mannered in the first half, a monster in the second half.
UCLA scored the first 10 points after halftime. It grew into a 27-6 run that gave the Bruins a 62-47 lead. USC scored only 11 points in the first 12 minutes of the half.
When asked what he said in the locker room with his team trailing, 41-35, at halftime, Alford said, "Defend."
But it wasn't so much what he said as how he said it, and whom he said it to — Adams, Powell and Kyle Anderson.
"Coaches, they get tense," Adams said. "They get mad. Coach Alford got on me and Kyle and Norman."
But, Adams said, "We don't get chewed out much."
Well, there was last Sunday after the debacle in Corvallis, a 71-67 loss to Oregon State.
"We're fine getting chewed out," Adams said. "We're getting used to it."
This one had an effect.