UCLA Puts Spin on Win : College basketball: Despite 23 turnovers in sluggish 76-66 victory over Washington State, Harrick says team is fine.


Repeat after me, said Jim Harrick.

There’s nothing wrong with the UCLA basketball team. . . . There’s nothing wrong with the UCLA basketball team. . . . There’s nothing wrong with the UCLA basketball team.

Feel better about the Bruins now?

Harrick wants you to know that if you want to criticize him and his team, fine. He’ll just cover his ears.

“I don’t listen to anybody,” Harrick said after Saturday’s 76-66 victory over Washington State. “Every time you play, somebody has a snide comment or something like that.”


His reaction: “I didn’t hear it, but I do hear it.”

Is that clear or is it?

There is a moral to this story, Harrick said. Actually, it is more like a moral to this fable.

“In this job, you have to worry about the elephant: your team,” he said after his 300th coaching victory. “You can’t think about the ants: everything else.”

Let the record show that the elephant won Saturday afternoon. UCLA beat the ant, played by Washington State, before 12,017 at Pauley Pavilion, in much the same kind of unevenly played game that Bruin followers have come to recognize recently.

Even though Washington State, 15-8 overall and 5-6 in the Pacific 10, was seeking its first victory on UCLA’s home court since, well, forever, and was attempting to do so without its top player, the Cougars hung pretty tough most of the way.

“It was winnable for us,” Cougar Coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I’m kind of crazy and off the wall anyway.”

It did look slightly winnable, even without Mark Hendrickson, who has a stress fracture in his right leg and did not play.


Though the Bruins were struggling, Ed O’Bannon said it is important to note that they won, just as they did against Washington, and are 17-2, 10-1 in the league.

“We just won two games, so I guess we’re in pretty good shape,” he said. “It seems like UCLA goes through lulls every year. I hope ours is over.”

So does Harrick, who really doesn’t want to hear too many make too much out of team that has won 17 of 19 games and is leading its conference.

Tyus Edney led the UCLA offense with 20 points, including three three-pointers, as well as nine free throws and seven assists.

Charles O’Bannon matched brother Ed’s total of 13 points, and Ed had 11 rebounds. But the Bruins continued to be careless with the basketball. They committed 23 turnovers, the same number they had against Washington and the third consecutive game of throwing the ball away at least 20 times.

“It’s just one of those things,” said Shon Tarver, who had a team-high six.

The Bruins had one of those other things, a mini scoring streak in the second half, to get an advantage they never relinquished. They broke a 38-38 tie with a 16-5 run that began on Ed O’Bannon’s 14-foot jump shot from a left-side angle and ended on Charles O’Bannon’s tip-in of his own missed shot.


So UCLA led, 54-43, which looked pretty nice, but was nonetheless surprising because the Bruins had six turnovers in that seven-minute stretch.

It seemed pretty clear that UCLA was going to win despite itself. This isn’t bad strategy against the Huskies and Cougars of the world, but it probably won’t work next week when UCLA plays at Arizona State and Arizona.

Ed O’Bannon was optimistic.

“Hopefully, we’re going to snap out of it,” he said.

Washington State got no closer than seven points afterward. Fred Ferguson scored 16 points, but played only 26 minutes because of foul problems. Washington State shooters were only six for 20 from three-point range as the Cougars ran their road record against UCLA to 0-37.

Ed O’Bannon’s rainbow three-pointer with 22 seconds left was UCLA’s sixth in 11 attempts and revived the Bruins’ recently moribund perimeter shooting.

As for reports of UCLA’s demise, well, Harrick said it’s a little too early for that. He pointed out that UCLA won despite adding Kevin Dempsey to an injury list that already includes Rodney Zimmerman’s back problem, Edney’s sore wrist, Charles O’Bannon’s sore hand and George Zidek’s sore ankle.

Dempsey has an ulcer and is taking medication.

It’s his first ulcer, said Dempsey, and it’s courtesy of UCLA basketball.

“Playing in L.A. will do that to you,” he said.

The elephants are restless.