For the third time this season, a freshman made his first collegiate start under high-pressure situations.

On Dec. 6, forward Reeves Nelson made his first start against No. 1 Kansas on national television at Pauley Pavilion in the first game since Drew Gordon left the program.

On Jan. 6, forward Tyler Honeycutt started for the first time against Cal on the road, a game in which the Bruins surprised the Bears with an overtime win.

On Sunday against USC at the Galen Center, it was Brendan Lane’s turn. In 16 minutes of play, the freshman from Rocklin had two points and two rebounds in the Bruins’ 68-64 loss.

Lane was thrust into the starting line-up due to the injury that sidelined senior forward James Keefe. Keefe injured his left shoulder in practice last Friday and was listed as a game-time decision. Yet when the Bruins took the floor for warm-ups, Keefe was seated on the bench in street clothes.

Lane said he learned that he would be starting the day of the game during walk-through.

“I was a little nervous, but I knew I was ready,” Lane said. “I just came out there and played hard.”

Prior to Sunday, Lane had played in eight of the Bruins’ 12 Pac-10 games and said that the biggest thing he focused on was matching the play of USC’s Alex Stepheson.

Lewis, Smith hurt Bruins

In the Bruins’ first game against USC, Trojan senior guard Dwight Lewis hit a game-high five 3-pointers on his way to 24 points, good enough for another game-high. Heading into the second meeting with USC, UCLA coach Ben Howland emphasized forcing Lewis to the paint.

Some things are easier said than done.

Lewis hit a number of outside shots on his way to scoring a game-high 23 points on eight-of-13 shooting, including three-of-six from 3-point territory.

“We were supposed to make him drive it before you let him shoot it right in your face,” said Howland of Lewis. “That happened to us a couple times.”

Another USC player who stepped up with a big game was redshirt junior point guard Donte Smith, who scored 12 points on four-of-seven shooting, including two-of-four from beyond the arc in 19 minutes off the bench.

“Those two guys really carried the load for them and made some big shots against our zone,” Howland said.

Dragovic hears it from crowd

Throughout the night, senior forward Nikola Dragovic was greeted by the USC student section with a number of derisive cheers, such as calling him a “rapist.”

Dragovic did not respond with the strongest game of the year, scoring 12 points on five-of-14 shooting including just one-of-seven from beyond the 3-point line. Yet Howland said that he was pleased with the way Dragovic performed.

“I thought Nik took maybe two bad shots,” Howland said. “He played with a lot of passion tonight. I thought he did a good job overall.”