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Walton Got a Mouthful on Rivalry With USC

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Times Staff Writer

Few, if any, have dominated the UCLA-USC basketball rivalry, which will be renewed today at the Sports Arena, more than the Bruins’ Bill Walton. From the 1971-72 season through 1973-74, the Trojans had winning teams under Coach Bob Boyd but couldn’t beat Walton and UCLA.

“I remember my first varsity game against USC,” Walton said. “I was playing center against Ron Riley. The game was just getting going when Riley caught me with one of his elbows right in the mouth. I was spitting out teeth and blood all game. That was my introduction to the UCLA-SC rivalry.”

Trivia time: Who led USC in scoring when the Trojans ended a 10-year, 19-game losing streak against UCLA with an 82-74 victory on Jan. 12, 1980?

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More Walton: The Bruins were 6-0 against USC with Walton in the lineup. In his final game against the Trojans, Walton had 26 points and 20 rebounds in a 30-point UCLA victory. He had seven more points and four more rebounds than the entire USC team at the half.

Just call Gatti “Boss”: The growing popularity of boxer Arturo Gatti, who will fight Jesse James Leija tonight in a WBC super-lightweight bout, is difficult to explain but Kathy Duva, chief executive of Main Events, tried.

“When I was in college, Bruce Springsteen was a phenomenon in New Jersey, but if you weren’t from New Jersey you didn’t necessarily know about him,” Duva told the New York Post. “Over the years, he became a big phenomenon throughout the world. Our mission is take Gatti from where he is now to that next level.”

Word play: Don’t count Phil Mushnick of the New York Post as a fan of ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who will debut his sports-talk show, “Quite Frankly” in June on ESPN2.

Mushnick wrote: “Smith noted that Denver QB Jake Plummer might need a haircut. ‘But,’ Smith added, ‘I regress.’

“That would’ve been a brilliant moment in spontaneous, self-deprecating word play, but, again, Smith didn’t know what he was talking about. When asked, he said, on the air, that he meant to say, ‘I digress.’ ”

Super Bowl run: Having a 1,000-yard rusher and playing a team without one in the Super Bowl is no guarantee of victory. According to STATS Inc., the team with the 1,000-yard rusher is only 7-6 all-time and has lost four of the last five Super Bowls in which the situation has occurred. New England’s Corey Dillon rushed for 1,635 yards this season, and Brian Westbrook led the Eagles with 812.

Then again, a team with a 1,500-yard rusher against one without is 6-0 in Super Bowl history.

Trivia answer: Guard Don Carfino scored 24 points to lead the Trojans to their first home victory over UCLA since 1963.

And finally: In response to Randy Moss’ recent mock mooning of Green Bay fans, an anonymous business reportedly paid $16,000 for four large purple billboards that display the following: “No. 1, Squirting an Official With a Water Bottle, $25,000; No. 2, Ramming a Meter Maid, $1,200 and Probation; No. 3, Mooning Pack Fans, $10,000; and No. 4, Zero Rings for Randy Moss. PRICELESS.”


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