No banana peel exhibitions this year for UCLA.
The Bruins won their second tune-up, this one handily, 95-59, over the Southern California All-Stars on Tuesday night at Pauley Pavilion, and have 10 days of practice before officially opening the Ben Howland era against Vermont.
The sheepish expressions that followed two Bruin exhibition losses last season were replaced by the measured optimism that is supposed to result from hammering a rag-tag collection of former college players.
"It feels good winning, even just an exhibition," guard Cedric Bozeman said.
Twenty-nine of the 34 UCLA baskets were assisted, and 10 players had at least one assist. Five Bruins scored in double figures, including reserve guards Janou Rubin (11 points) and Ryan Walcott (10); eight Bruins made three-point baskets. Freshman forward Trevor Ariza had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists, center Michael Fey had 14 points and forward Dijon Thompson added 12.
"Most exciting to me was the great ratio" of assists to baskets, Howland said.
UCLA held the All-Stars to 38.3% shooting, although it was difficult to tell whether tight defense or inept offense was the primary reason. But there was dramatic improvement in the one area lacking in the Bruins' first exhibition -- free-throw shooting. UCLA made 15 of 16, six days after making five of 23.
Howland appointed juniors Bozeman and Thompson co-captains.... Any UCLA basketball alumnus who has not received an invitation to the John and Nell Wooden luncheon Dec. 20 is asked to contact the athletics office.