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Kris Johnson

 
Bruins Drop Pac-10 Opener to Arizona, 87-75

Jan. 3, 1998

By MEL REISNER

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Arizona figured out how to win big games on the way toits first national championship last year - leave things in the hands of itsbackcourt of Miles Simon and Mike Bibby.

The formula worked again Saturday night against UCLA, with an assist fromMichael Dickerson.

Simon had 27 points, Dickerson 24 and Bibby 20 as the No. 8 Wildcats snappedtheir three-game losing streak to the Bruins with an 87-75 victory in theteams' Pac-10 opener.

"It's real big to beat UCLA," Simon said. "We know the Pac-10 title goesthrough Westwood. To come out well in this game, that's how we get a leg up."

The Wildcats (10-3) outscored the Bruins 49-34 in the second half, refusingto wilt after the No. 9 Bruins (9-2) shot 58.6 percent in the first 20 minutes.

"The experience was a big factor; so was the crowd," coach Lute Olsonsaid.

Dickerson, who finished with nine rebounds, had 16 points in the secondhalf. He nailed a back-breaking 3-pointer with 3:03 left, sending the Wildcatsto a 77-66 lead that was their biggest to that point, and Arizona closed outthe game at the foul line.

"The plan was to get into the wings and not let the play get started,"Dickerson said about holding the Bruins to 36 percent shooting after halftime."We played with more intensity. It's our gym, and we got the confidence in thesecond half."

Kris Johnson had 28 points, Toby Bailey 17 and Jelani McCoy 16 and 13rebounds for the Bruins, who had their nine-game winning streak stopped.Johnson, Bailey, J.R. Henderson and Baron Davis fouled out trying to keepArizona's three stars from running away with the game.

"Tonight we weren't on our game," Bailey said. "Kris and Jelani were theonly ones that were, and they carried us the whole game."

"They're one of the top programs in the country, a future Hall of Famecoach, and they return everybody from a national championship team, so you addall that up and that's an equation of success," UCLA coach Steve Lavin said.

Simon started a five-minute, 15-5 run in the second half with two freethrows and a jumper. Then Dickerson had a 3-pointer, layup off a baseline driveand 14-foot jumper, and Bibby sank a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 66-54lead with 9:26 to play.

McCoy played in his second game since being reinstated after a two-monthsuspension.

Johnson was suspended with McCoy on Sept. 29, but was reinstated sooner andplayed his seventh game. He had 17 points at halftime.

"That's the good news," Lavin said. "The fact that Jelani and Kris arestarting to come back and hit on all cylinders. When you're interchanging partsin midstream, it's impossible for that not to have some kind of effect on therhythm of your team."

McCoy, who set a Bruins single-season accuracy record last year when he made75.6 percent of his shots, connected on the first six in this game but missedfour of the last six.

He started a 9-0 spurt with a follow shot and a 12-foot jumper, and Baileymade a 3-pointer and dunked. The second basket sent UCLA to a 25-24 lead with7:41 left in the first half.

The lead changed hands 12 more times in the half, with Johnson hitting threestraight baskets and two free throws to account for three UCLA leads and a33-33 tie.

Davis hit a 16-footer for the final lead change with 1:13 to go, and Johnsonput the Bruins ahead 41-38 with the last basket of the half.

Arizona's last win in the series was Jan. 20, 1996. Since that 88-79victory, UCLA had taken three straight close ones - by one-point in LosAngeles, 66-64 last year in Tucson, and 84-78 in overtime at home.


 

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