Feb. 28, 2001
LOS ANGELES - UCLA coach Steve Lavin does not have to worry about his streaking Bruins looking past Thursday's Pac-10 clash with California at Pauley Pavilion.
With four games remaining on their schedule, the 12th-ranked Bruins (19-6, 12-2 Pac-10) find themselves just one game behind top-ranked Stanford in the conference standings. Having dealt the Cardinal their lone loss of the season with a 79-73 triumph at Maples Pavilion on February 3, UCLA can actually take the conference crown by winning out, since it will play host to Stanford in a much-anticipated rematch on Saturday.
But first, Lavin's team must avenge the loss that preceeded its current season-high seven-game winning streak, an embarrassing 92-63 setback at California on Feb. 1.
The Bruins were outscored 32-12 in the first 10 minutes of their visit to Haas Pavilion and Lavin endured constant taunting from the crowd.
"We expect UCLA's best effort on Thursday," California coach Ben Braun said. "Supposedly, their game on Saturday (with Stanford) is not a factor, I would imagine, in their minds until after our game. That game doesn't take on any signficiance really for them unless they do well against us. So we're really standing in the way of them and I'm sure that their memories are pretty up to date (about the last meeting)."
The blowout loss proved to be a turning point in the Bruins' campaign. UCLA won at Stanford two days later and has pulled out a series of narrow victories since, including a pair of overtime triumphs over Arizona and Oregon State, respectively.
Earl Watson was the hero after nearly being the goat in the Bruins' 68-65 overtime victory against the Beavers on Saturday. He scored 20 points and made 3-of-4 free throws in the waning moments of overtime to make up for three straight misses from the stripe in the final minute of regulation as UCLA won for the 15th time in 17 games.
The Bears (19-7, 10-4) have won four of six since defeating the Bruins and have also won their last four road games.
With 29 points in an 84-65 victory over Washington State on Saturday, Sean Lampley became California's all-time leading scorer with 1,693 points, surpassing Lamond Murray (1,688 from 1992-94).