Charles in Charge in UCLA Debut : College basketball: Younger O'Bannon brother scores 22 points, provides memorable moment in 115-77 rout of Loyola Marymount.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The circus came to town Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, where the newest high-wire act in college basketball played to an amused house of 8,567.

There he is right now, circling into view. It's Charles O'Bannon, half of a soon-to-be-famous UCLA brother act, a four-armed, rocket-powered running and dunking machine that put on quite a performance in the Bruins' 115-77 season-opening victory over Loyola Marymount.

Charles scored 22 points in 28 minutes, brother Ed had 20 in 24 and a third bald Bruin, Shon Tarver, scored 23 in 24. It was a dizzying experience.

It all happened so fast for UCLA, which seemed to try more for style points than anything else in walloping the undermanned Lions.

Mostly, it was Charles' fault. He didn't merely play the game above the rim. He tried to play it above the backboard.

Take for instance a one-handed dunk that was important for two reasons. Not only did it end the first half, it is also destined for the UCLA highlight loop, to be shown in perpetuity.

It happened this way: An airborne Charles snagged the ball in mid-flight as David Boyle's jumper bounced off the rim and toward the left wing. Then, in one motion, still way up there, he jackhammered the ball through the hoop.

To mark the occasion, O'Bannon did the only thing he could. He celebrated. He sort of glided in front of the UCLA cheering section, laughing all the way to the locker room.

Afterward, O'Bannon said this particular dunk, one of his four, was a simple matter of geography.

"Where the ball is, I go get it," he said. "That's what I've been taught to do."

He followed the lesson plan perfectly. It was a dunk that brought the fans out of their seats, which is where they were with 3:27 left, this time headed for the parking lots after UCLA's lead hit 40, 104-64.

On the dunk, it was Charles in charge.

"That was just a big-time highlight for myself," O'Bannon said. "It got me pumped up, the blood flowing, the crowd going."

Tarver had spotted O'Bannon, probably with radar, just before the dunk, so he had the opportunity to stand there and admire it.

"Very, very nice," Tarver said. "An NBA dunk."

Actually, there were quite a number of attractive dunks by the Bruins. They came to nine--four each by the O'Bannons and one by Ike Nwankwo.

With so much running and dunking going on, it's simple to surmise that the game got out of hand pretty early, which it did. Tarver made four three-pointers in the first six minutes against a 2-3 zone and the Bruins shot to a 30-7 lead before the 10-minute mark, then sort of put it in cruise control the rest of the way.

John Olive, the Loyola coach, said the Lions did about as well as they could against a superior team.

"Wow, they were pretty good, huh?" he said.

See any weaknesses?

"Not today," he said.

Maybe hang time on dunks, or for the picky, a vaguely disturbing inside defense, although in the kind of game it was, it's hard to tell if defending the middle is going to be a major worry or a minor irritation.

As for UCLA Coach Jim Harrick, his postgame comments didn't come close to matching his colorful wardrobe.

"We still have a long way to go," Harrick said. "We didn't run a lot of offense. To beat the good teams, you have to run your offensive plays."

Plays or not, the Bruins fired off 95 shots, which is a better-than-average NBA total. Forty-eight of them went in, too (50.5%).

The most successful Bruins were the expected ones. Charles O'Bannon made 10 of 14 shots, Ed eight of 11 and Tarver nine of 17. However, no one was as accurate as Nwankwo, a 6-11 third-string center who made all seven of his shots and finished with 14 points in only eight minutes.

It was the same sort of story on the backboards and UCLA won there, too, 61-39. Charles O'Bannon had 12, George Zidek nine in only 18 minutes, Ed O'Bannon eight and Kevin Dempsey seven.

Former UCLA player Zan Mason scored 16 points for Loyola and Cobi McElroy had 13. The Lions made only 41.3% of their shots, turned the ball over 27 times, four of them steals by Tyus Edney, who also had eight assists in 24 minutes.

There wasn't much that went wrong, even when Wyking Jones went high to block a dunk by Ed O'Bannon and fouled him. Jones said something to O'Bannon, who merely pointed to the scoreboard, which showed UCLA leading, 39-18.

O'Bannon was more talkative when the subject was his 18-year-old brother and the sky dunk that ended the first half.

"I think Charles is good for stuff like that," O'Bannon said. "He'll always do something spectacular."

That's life on the high wire.

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