Jan. 17, 2002
TEMPE, Ariz. - UCLA was hardly the dynamic team that upset then-No. 1 Kansas last week.
"We've got a lot of areas to improve on - time and score, late-game situations, too many open 3-point shooters," coach Steve Lavin said. "We didn't use enough clock. They missed some crucial free throws. That can add up to a loss somewhere down the road."
UCLA's next game is Saturday against No. 15 Arizona, which routed Southern Calfornia by 17 points. USC is the only team to beat the Bruins (13-3, 5-1 Pac-10) in their last 12 games.
Matt Barnes had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bruins, who outrebounded Arizona State 50-35.
"Our size should be an advantage," Lavin said. "We got crushed on the boards by the USC Trojans."
Chad Prewitt had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Sun Devils (10-6, 3-4), who rallied from a double-digit deficit twice in the second half only to fall short for the 25th time in their last 26 games against the Bruins. Curtis Millage scored 15 and Tommy Smith 13.
"I've been in situations where we've lost close games to good teams my whole career, so it's getting old," said Prewitt, who tipped in a missed shot by UCLA's T.J. Cummings while trying to rebound in the second half. "We just needed to come up with plays, and we didn't."
Kapono made five free throws over the final 40 seconds. He had four with 39.1 second to go, including two on a technical foul after a fan threw coins onto the court, to give the Bruins an 80-72 lead.
"That technical shouldn't happen," Arizona State coach Evans said. "When the game is close, you let the players decide things. It was demoralizing when you work as hard as these kids worked. They deserved a chance to win."
Millage and Prewitt made 3-pointers down the stretch, but the Bruins countered with free throws.
UCLA had the ball under its own basket with 6.2 seconds to go, but Millage stole the inbounds pass and missed a shot at the buzzer.
"They played their hearts out coming back in the game and then lost by three, so you've got to give them credit," Barnes said. "But we've got to work on closing out a lead and playing for 40 minutes."
The Bruins took a 50-39 lead by getting nine points out of three straight possessions early in the second half, then fought off three rallies for the win.
Arizona State got within 50-45 on 3-pointers by Kenny Crandall and Prewitt, the latter with 14:22 to go.
But Barnes started an 11-2 run with a jump hook, and Kapono finished it with a 3-pointer, sending the Bruins to their biggest lead, 64-51, with 9:08 to play.
"Their pressure caused us to play quick," Kapono said. "Even though they were playing solid defense and pressuring us, we should have stayed poised. We should have, like, swung the ball more instead of trying to shoot quickly. We forced some quick shots, and that's what got them back in the game."
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer