UCLA Is Its Own Worst Enemy but Still Wins, 94-84

Times Staff Writer

UCLA’s 94-84 victory over Arizona State Thursday night before a crowd of 5,896 at Pauley Pavilion probably says more about the sorry state of the Sun Devils than it does about the strength of the Bruins.

That’s not to say that the Bruins weren’t impressive at times, especially in the second half, when they outscored the Sun Devils by more than 20 points before Coach Jim Harrick cleared his bench in the final minutes.

Arizona State, though, is fast sinking into the depths of the Pacific 10 Conference without its leader, Tarence Wheeler, a sophomore point guard who injured his right knee 2 weeks ago and is out for the season.


“I thought we really showed some progress as a team,” said Sun Devil Coach Steve Patterson, who wasn’t kidding.

ASU’s previous 3 losses were by 24, 29 and 20 points.

The Sun Devils, though, stayed even with UCLA throughout a sloppy first half that probably was the Bruins’ worst of the season.

It was so bad, in fact, that Harrick gathered his players just before the start of the second half and admonished them.

What did he tell them?

“I told them, ‘If we ever get an opportunity to go to the NCAA tournament, we’ve got to have a little bit of pride in our game,’ ” Harrick said. “ ‘It starts right here and right now--develop some pride and show that you can come out and play every night.’ ”

Harrick was delighted with the Bruins’ response.

The Bruins, who held a 36-35 advantage at halftime, steadily widened the gap, finally putting the Sun Devils away with a 15-2 run that gave UCLA an 83-62 lead with 5 minutes 16 seconds left.

Freshman Darrick Martin capped the spurt with an acrobatic 3-point play, hanging in the air as he was fouled by Matt Anderson and flipping a layup over his head and into the basket as he was falling to the floor.

“I think the Bruins showed that they’re a very explosive team,” Patterson said. “We played with them for perhaps 35 minutes, but in one 5-minute stretch, they sort of cut our throats.”

The victory improved the Bruins’ record to 10-4, including a 5-1 conference mark that moved them into sole possession of second place in the Pac-10.

Arizona State, which will play USC Saturday at the Sports Arena while UCLA plays at Stanford, fell to 8-7 and 2-5.

For the Bruins, Martin enjoyed his most productive game of the season, making 6 of 7 shots, including both of his 3-pointers, and scoring a season-high 16 points to go with 5 assists and 3 steals.

Freshman Don MacLean made 7 of 10 shots and had 21 points, 8 rebounds and a season-high 4 assists; Trevor Wilson had 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, and Pooh Richardson had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

Trent Edwards led Arizona State, scoring 19 points (on 9-of-13 shooting) and grabbing 8 rebounds. Edwards, a 6-foot 7-inch, 237-pound forward who started his college career as a football player at TCU, also had 2 technical fouls, drawing his second for throwing an elbow.

“I don’t think they like Edwards, to tell you the truth,” Patterson said of the officials. “For some reason, officials think he’s overly aggressive and rough around the edges. Or maybe he looks too much like a football player.”

Harrick didn’t think it was a particularly physical game.

“Not from our standpoint,” he said. “We haven’t touched anybody yet.”

For a half, the uninspired Bruins were mostly awful, turning the ball over 11 times in the first 20 minutes and generally looking sloppy even when things went right.

Would it behoove the Bruins, Harrick was asked, to play better against Stanford, winner of 8 straight games before losing Thursday night at Cal?

“Against any good team it would behoove you not to play like we did in the first half,” he said.

Arizona State, though, isn’t a good team, especially since it is playing without its 2 best players, Wheeler and center Emory Lewis, who has not played this season because of a stress fracture in his left foot.

And so, UCLA was able to survive its own ineptitude.

“It seemed like we were in a little bit of a hurry,” Harrick said. “But we settled down.”

Once they did, the Sun Devils were finished.

Bruin Notes

According to Sports Illustrated, Athletic Director Peter Dalis of UCLA suggested this week that universities that have shied away from incoming freshmen who do not meet the academic requirements of the NCAA’s controversial Proposition 48, including UCLA, might break off from the NCAA and play among themselves. Thursday, Dalis said that UCLA has no intention of breaking from the NCAA. His suggestion, he said, was that schools with similar academic philosophies might form their own division within the NCAA. He added, however, that the idea probably was not practical.

UCLA has awarded a scholarship to backup center Keith Owens, a former walk-on. There had been a question as to whether the Bruins had a scholarship 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 NCAA. . . . Guard Matt Anderson, who had been starting for Arizona State, was demoted by Coach Steve Patterson but came off the bench to score a career-high 18 points.