This Time ‘Pit’ Duck Soup for Bruins, 97-66
After a stuffed bear flew onto the court, delaying the start of the UCLA-Oregon game Thursday night, the announcer at McArthur Court intoned: “Appreciate it if fans don’t throw any more Bruins on the floor.”
Apparently, the Oregon players believed that the edict against roughing up Bruins, real or stuffed, applied to them, too.
The Ducks, who in the past have given UCLA fits in The Pit, fell meekly this time, 97-66, before a crowd of 8,244, which hurled only insults as the rout wore on.
“Put in the first team,” shouted a fan behind press row.
Believe it or not, that was Oregon’s first team on the floor most of the way as the Bruins outshot the Ducks, 54.4% to 45.5%, and forced 24 turnovers.
The victory improved the Bruins’ record to 8-2, including a 3-0 mark in the Pacific 10 Conference, their best start since the 1983-84 season, and moved them into sole possession of first place as Arizona lost at Stanford.
Oregon fell to 5-6 and 0-1.
“I thought our defense was superb,” UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said. “They scored on some offensive rebounds and some transitions. But when they had to set their offense, we stopped them pretty decently.
“Then, on the other side, we executed really well offensively. We were very, very patient.”
Pooh Richardson put together another brilliant effort, making 8 of 11 shots, including 4 of 5 3-point shots, and matching his season high with 21 points, to go along with 8 assists and 4 steals.
His new running mate in the backcourt, freshman Darrick Martin, had 5 assists and 5 steals in his first start in place of Kevin Williams.
“We really created some havoc,” Harrick said. “Martin and Richardson caused numerous turnovers. We really had some quick hands.”
Richardson limited Oregon’s leading scorer, Frank Johnson, to 12 points and was a major reason that Johnson had 6 turnovers. Oregon’s other starting guard, Tony Hargain, had only 2 turnovers but didn’t score.
“We thought we could overplay their guards and get some easy baskets,” Martin said. “You can always use easy baskets, especially on the road.”
Also adding to Oregon’s woes were Trevor Wilson, who led the Bruins with 24 points on 12-of-22 shooting, and Kevin Walker and Charles Rochelin, who each scored 14 points and pulled down 7 rebounds.
Freshman Don MacLean, who scored 41 points last Friday night against North Texas, started slow and was limited to 12 points.
Oregon started off with a diamond-and-one defense, with Brett Coffey shadowing MacLean, who made only 1 of 4 shots in the first half.
The defense, however, created openings for other Bruins.
“If you diamond-and-one us, you have one guy guarding Jerome Richardson and (one guy guarding) Darrick Martin,” Harrick said. “They get into the middle and there are too many holes. It’s a gambling defense.”
When Oregon Coach Don Monson saw that the gamble wasn’t paying off, he changed his defensive alignment several times, but nothing worked.
“They dictated the tempo pretty much,” Monson said of the Bruins, who had lost their previous two road games--at North Carolina and UC Irvine.
Still, the Ducks cut a 12-point deficit to 28-24 midway through the first half before UCLA ran off 10 straight points. The prettiest play in the spurt was Richardson stripping the ball from Mike Helms and feeding Wilson for a layup.
Richardson made another spectacular move at the end of the half, driving from the top of the key and softly banking a layup off the glass with his left hand to give the Bruins a 42-32 halftime lead.
UCLA took control early in the second half, putting together a pair of 6-0 runs to build a 55-38 lead.
Eventually, the Bruins’ lead grew to 33 points.
“I liked our focus and I liked our intensity,” Harrick said.
He also liked UCLA’s defense.
“We haven’t been a steal-the-ball team,” Harrick said, “but they had about 4 turnovers where they just threw the ball out of bounds because we were playing such good defense.”
Pete Newell, the great ex-California coach who runs a camp each year for big men, on UCLA’s Don MacLean: “I spend all summer trying to teach NBA players to post up like he does as a freshman.” MacLean established a Pacific 10 Conference freshman record when he scored 41 points last week against North Texas. . . . Extended range: Pooh Richardson, who made only 2 of 7 3-point shots last season and only 2 of 8 as a sophomore, has made 16 of 20 this season. . . . Coach Jim Harrick would like to give a scholarship to walk-on Keith Owens, the Bruins’ backup center, but isn’t sure if he has any to give. Because of recruiting violations in the case of Carl Pitts, who never played at UCLA, the Bruins had 2 scholarships taken away this year by the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. “We’re checking it out,” Harrick said. . . . Including Thursday night’s game, UCLA will be on the road this month for 6 of 7 Pac-10 games. The Bruins’ only games at Pauley Pavilion this month are against Notre Dame Jan. 14 and Arizona State Jan. 19. . . . UCLA will play Oregon State Sunday at Corvallis, Ore.