5:00 PM ET, January 4, 2004
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, California
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The UCLA Bruins learned a lot about themselves during the first weekend of Pac-10 play.They found out reserve Janou Rubin, a walk-on a few seasons ago, can be a major contributor; they can hit free throws down the stretch; and they might end up higher than their predicted sixth-place finish in the conference.Dijon Thompson and Rubin scored 13 points each and UCLA recovered after blowing most of a 22-point lead to beat Oregon 81-74 Sunday, ending a five-game losing streak against the Ducks."It was really big for us," senior T.J. Cummings said. "We feel we're a high-caliber team, but it's more of a thing where we have to show it to the world."The Bruins (6-3, 2-0 Pac-10) drastically improved their performance from the free throw line after Friday's 3-of-11 showing in a win over Oregon State.They made 12-of-16 over the final 5:16 -- when the Ducks got within six points after trailing by 22 early in the second half. The Bruins had just two baskets, dunks by freshman Trevor Ariza and Ryan Hollins, in the final five minutes."We don't win unless we knock down our (foul) shots," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.UCLA practiced its free throws in silence for 30 minutes Saturday. They were 25-of-32 for the game."Once you practice hard, you play the same way," said Cummings, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. "I wanted to make sure that (rebounding) was a big point for me. That's something I really worked hard on in practice."Cedric Bozeman added 12 points for UCLA. Center Michael Fey had just one rebound in 21 minutes.Luke Jackson scored 28 points -- one off his career high -- for Oregon (6-3, 1-1), which eliminated the Bruins from the Pac-10 tournament last season in Steve Lavin's final game as coach."They won this game in the first half, plain and simple. We gave up too many easy baskets and it boosted their confidence," Jackson said. "We played better basketball in the second half. We just didn't have enough to get it done."Andre Joseph added 16 points for the Ducks, who were outrebounded 38-27."UCLA has a new coach and they run a good system now," Joseph said. "They are tough. It's hard when you make mistakes and give a team like that a lot of chances."UCLA took away Oregon's inside game and held 6-foot-11 forward Ian Crosswhite to six points. He had 10 rebounds."The biggest difference in this game was definitely not keeping UCLA off the glass," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "UCLA did a great job on the boards getting those second-chance baskets. They are more disciplined, run their offense well and their chemistry is good."The Ducks' vaunted 3-point shooting also broke down. They were 7-of-25 from long-range after hitting 14 3-pointers in a win against Southern California on Friday. They came in shooting 45 percent from behind the arc, but were limited to 28 percent.UCLA used a 28-6 run over the end of the first half and start of the second for its largest lead, 55-33. Seven different Bruins scored in the spurt that included nine straight points to open the second half."The only thing is we got tentative against the press and started turning it over," Howland said. "We got a little bit cute and against a good team, they're right back on top of you."The Ducks woke up on Jackson's three-point play that started a 12-4 run and got them to 59-45. UCLA, which shot 50 percent in the first half, started missing and Jackson and Joseph began dominating.They combined to score 15 consecutive points and the Ducks trailed 65-56 with 7:13 remaining. Jordan Kent, the freshman son of coach Ernie Kent, dunked off a turnover and made one of two free throws after an intentional foul by Rubin.The Bruins caught a break, though, when Crosswhite picked up his fourth foul before Oregon could score. Cummings hit both free throws, then Ariza scored four straight for a 72-63 lead with 2:56 left.The Bruins broke open a close first half with a 19-6 run that gave them a 46-33 lead at the break. They made 9-of-10 free throws in the spurt, including four straight by Josiah Johnson. In Friday's win over Oregon State, UCLA made just 3-of-11 free throws.The Ducks made just one field goal over the final 6:12 of the half.
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