Tyus and Damon. Damon and Tyus. Two deadly sub-six-footers who have been dancing and darting at each other over four hard, marvelous years.
For the last scheduled time as collegians, Tyus Edney and Damon Stoudamire lead their teams against each other today at Pauley Pavilion, fittingly, in one of the most significant regular-season games of their careers.
UCLA last won the Pacific 10 title in both players' freshman years, when both were bench contributors and the Bruins swept Arizona. The Wildcats won the next two championships--
taking three of four from UCLA in the process--as Edney and Stoudamire developed into two of the best point guards in the nation.
This season, UCLA has built its successful regular season and current one-game lead over the Wildcats around its victory at Tucson when Edney harassed Stoudamire into a six-for-21 shooting performance. Arizona's main, and perhaps only, chance of keeping UCLA from this year's title is to win today.
Edney vs. Stoudamire, for the eighth and final scheduled time.
"This will be one of those matchups," said UCLA assistant coach Lorenzo Romar, "that 10, 12 years down the road, people will say, 'Hey, remember the old Stoudamire-Edney matchup?' It's a classic, there's no question about it.
"What sets this apart from the other matchups in the country is that these two players have been on two teams that have fought for the Pac-10 championship for the last three or four years.
"These two guys have been spear-heading the attack. That makes it a very, very special matchup. I mean, they're playing for more than just one-on-one glory."
Though Stoudamire has the better overall career statistics and is generally considered to be the stronger, more dangerous player, in their head-to-head matchups, Edney holds a clear advantage.
In seven previous games, Stoudamire, who carries a much larger scoring burden than Edney, has made only 36.1% (30 for 83) of his field-goal attempts, and only 28.6% (12 for 42) of his three-point shots. Stoudamire, the Pac-10's leading scorer this year at 21.3 points per game, has averaged 11.7 points against UCLA.
"I owe them something," Stoudamire, who has struggled offensively in his last two games, said of the Bruins. "I'm looking forward to them.
"I think that they feel that, more or less, they can guard me straight-up. I hope that's the way they feel because I need a big game. I need to explode."
Edney, meanwhile, has flourished against Stoudamire, making 62.7% (37 for 59) of his shots from the field, and 40% from three-point distance. Edney, a career 12-points-a-game scorer, averages 15.6 points against Arizona.
"I guess I've just been fortunate to have good games when we've played against him," Edney said. "That's probably all it is. I do get up for that game. I look on the schedule and see when we have Arizona."
Would it mean something special to finish his series with Stoudamire with a particularly convincing performance?
"I want to finish with a win," Edney said, "that's all I want to do."
The UCLA staff gets a little miffed when it is assumed that Stoudamire is the better player, and points to Edney's quickness defensively, spotlighted by his shackling of Stoudamire.
"It seems to me Stoudamire's kind of gotten a little break in his four-year career," UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said.
"Certainly . . . he's always been picked ahead of Tyus. They played in the Goodwill Games (last summer, coached by George Raveling) and Stoudamire did all the playing and Edney did most of the sitting. Maybe that's a reason that he gets excited about playing against Damon."
Said Romar: "Damon is arguably the top point guard in the country. But people underestimate Tyus. They think his big numbers against Damon shouldn't happen, but he's a good basketball player too.
"Tyus, he hears all those things. He hears he's getting ready to play against the nation's No. 1 point guard. He feels like, 'Hey, I'm pretty good too.' "
* Times staff writer Ara Najarian contributed to this story.
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Through Saturday's games
CONFERENCE OVERALL Team W L W L UCLA 10 2 17 2 Arizona 9 3 19 5 Arizona State 9 4 19 6 Washington State 8 5 13 8 Stanford 7 5 16 5 Oregon 7 5 15 6 California 4 8 12 9 Oregon State 3 9 6 15 Washington 3 10 7 14 USC 2 11 7 16