March 20, 2002
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES - Seven years after Tyus Edney's length-of-the-court drive and layup beat the buzzer and Missouri, UCLA hopes it won't take another miracle shot to get past the Tigers.
The Bruins won that second-round game 75-74, and eventually earned their 11th national championship and only one since John Wooden retired in 1975.
Edney dribbled the length of the court in 4.8 seconds and got off his game-winner over 6-foot-9 Derek Grimm and 6-1 Jason Sutherland, stunning the Tigers and triggering a joyous midcourt celebration.
"We were all grateful that Tyus made the shot and that we were able to extend our season and play another week," said coach Steve Lavin, then an assistant under Jim Harrick who took over when Harrick was fired 20 months later.
"Coach Harrick and the staff were under the usual great pressure to continue to win games and try and bring home a championship banner," Lavin recalled Tuesday.
Not much has changed since 1995. Lavin and his staff were under fire most of this season for the Bruins' roller-coaster performances.
For the impressive victories over then-No. 1 Kansas and at Stanford, there were several clunkers, including an early season loss to Ball State in Hawaii, a 29-point blowout by Oregon and a first-round exit in the Pac-10 Conference tournament.
"The lows are lower and the highs are higher at UCLA," said Lavin, who along with Duke's Mike Krzyzewski are the only coaches in the nation to reach the final 16 five times in the last six years.
"So everyone is surprised when we have breakthroughs, but as a coach you see the progress day-to-day."
In 1995, the Bruins were a No. 1 seed. They had lost to Tulsa in the first round the previous year, and would lose to Princeton in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament.
In between came the greatest play Lavin said he's ever seen.
"It was kind of a storybook finish," he said. "I remember 15 or 20 minutes later in the locker room, the team was just so excited."
UCLA freshman Cedric Bozeman was 12 when he saw Edney's heroics while watching the game at his grandmother's house.
"That was a big giant-killer," Bozeman said. "Hopefully, we can squeak by and get a clean victory."
When eighth-seeded UCLA (21-11) plays 12th-seeded Missouri (23-11) in a West Regional semifinal Thursday night in San Jose, it'll be a pairing of two similar programs.
The Tigers are coached by 35-year-old Quin Snyder. They underachieved most of the season, dropping from a No. 2 ranking after a 9-0 start to unranked before the Big 12 Conference tournament.
They defeated fifth-seeded Miami and No. 4 Ohio State convincingly in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Coached by the 37-year-old Lavin, the Bruins were a top-10 team to start the season, then lost to Ball State and Pepperdine before beating UC Riverside, UC Irvine (by one point) and Columbia despite indifferent efforts.
The Bruins beat Mississippi 80-58 and then surprised No. 1 Cincinnati 105-101 in double overtime to reach the final 16 for the third consecutive year.
"We put ourselves in a position to be criticized with our poor performances, but now we're winning, it's in one ear and out the other," said senior forward Matt Barnes, who has a "Never Satisified" tattoo on his forearm. "Our mission is to win it all."
Fifth-year UCLA seniors Rico Hines and Billy Knight are in their fourth final 16, but have never advanced to a Final Four. Their previous three regional appearances ended in semifinal losses to Kentucky, Iowa State and Duke.
"Our real goal is the Final Four and it's two games away," Knight said.
Hines won't play in San Jose after injuring his left knee against Cincinnati. There's a chance he could play if the Bruins advance to next week's Final Four in Atlanta.
"I feel we have as much talent as they do," he said. "I expect us to go out and beat Missouri."