In case you were fooled on Saturday, the UCLA men’s basketball team still has a chance to make the NCAA tournament.

Despite a rough season, there’s still hope in Westwood.

There had never been a game like Saturday’s, as UCLA suffered its worst home loss ever to cross-town rival USC. Let’s just say it doesn’t necessarily help the Bruins’ tournament hopes.

“They completely dominated us, right from the beginning of the game,” coach Ben Howland said.

The Trojans, decked out in their alternate, all-black uniforms, scored seven unanswered points to open the game ““ a streak that seemingly rattled the Bruins and all but deflated a crowd of 11,108 that was loud and riled up before the game.

UCLA’s early dry spell didn’t help, either. The Bruins (7-10, 2-3 Pac-10) managed only four points in the first seven minutes as an energized Trojan (11-6, 3-2) squad raced out to a 12-point lead at halftime.

“I don’t know, man,” freshman forward Reeves Nelson said. “People that don’t play with heart and don’t play with balls don’t register to me. I’m not going to bad-mouth my teammates, obviously. But (Saturday) was a gut check, and we got checked pretty hard.”

Mirroring Howland’s old defenses, Kevin O’Neill’s USC squad suffocated Bruin players far from the basket.

Redshirt senior guard Michael Roll and senior forward Nikola Dragovic were hurried and held scoreless in the first half. They shot a combined 0-for-11.

“We weren’t patient early, and they just took it to us,” Howland said.

The Trojans, meanwhile, certainly didn’t look like a team that has nothing to look forward to once the conference schedule ends. Due to self-imposed sanctions, USC will not participate in postseason play ““ regardless of its record or qualifications.

Yet, none of that seemed to matter to USC first-year coach Kevin O’Neill, who inherited the sanctions following violations made by former coach Tim Floyd.

“Any time you win is vital, but it’s great to get a win against your rival,” O’Neill said.

USC senior guard Dwight Lewis scored a season-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, taunting the UCLA student section following a number of his conversions.

Forward Nikola Vucevic added a career-high 19 points for USC.

“Athletically, we have hard matchups,” Howland said. “Again, that was the case tonight.”

Roll’s first score came on a jumper three minutes into the second half. He finished with 12 points, as did sophomore guard Malcolm Lee.

“They had our plays scouted real well,” Lee said.

Dragovic continued his inconsistent play Saturday. He missed each of his six shots and scored his two points on free throws. Dragovic had 31 points combined against California and Stanford the previous weekend.

“It’s very disappointing,” Howland said. “He took some bad shots today. He’s got to understand that this is the result when you don’t wait for it. We have to be way more patient.”

Senior forward James Keefe dunked with a minute left in the first half to excite the crowd and cut the deficit to 12. But USC’s lead reached a game-high 24 midway through the second half following a Vucevic 3-pointer. Fans started to head for the exits on the ensuing timeout.

“We’re just going to have to take little steps,” Lee said.

In the end, the game just seemed to matter more to USC.

“I’m embarrassed for our team,” Howland said. “I feel embarrassed for the program, the former players and coaches. It’s really all I can say about this. It was embarrassing.”