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UCLA Has No Time to Lose, and Wins on Jackson's Jumper

January 12, 1987|THOMAS BONK | Times Staff Writer

TUCSON — In that lonely fraction of a second in mid-air when he took the shot, none of these thoughts went through Craig Jackson's mind: dribbling, worrying, passing, thinking.

For UCLA Sunday, there was no time to lose. So Jackson did not think, which meant that going blank was probably the best thing he could do.

"I just turned around and shot," Jackson said. "If I had thought about what I was doing, the clock would have gone off with the ball still in my hands."

It went off with the ball in the basket instead. And so ended an improbable Bruin comeback victory delivered by an equally improbable hero.

Jackson, who had been moored to the bench since he jumped ship from the team for six days, sank a 10-foot jump shot with one second left to send the Bruins to an 84-83 victory over Arizona.

UCLA had to come a long way to improve their Pacific 10 record to 4-2 with their second second consecutive conference road victory and a sweep of the state's desert schools.

With just over six minutes to play, Coach Lute Olson's Wildcats held a 73-59 lead, and Coach Walt Hazzard was so worried his suspenders were vibrating.

"At that point, you just have to hope that things go your way," he said.

Also at this point, it's becoming a little hard to figure the Bruins out.

Here's a team that until Thursday night had not won a road game all season. Then they get their second in four days in the Pac-10's toughest place to play by coming from 14 points down and winning on a last-second shot by a guy who has played three minutes since Christmas.

What do you call this?

"I'd call it surprising," said Reggie Miller, who had 15 points despite having the flu.

Meanwhile, Jackson had been in the doghouse so long he was in danger of developing kennel cough. He could not imagine being the hero. He was trying to imagine something else.

"I was trying to remember what it felt like to be on the court," Jackson said. "I was sitting on the bench in the first half wondering if I would even get into the game."

If anyone made Jackson a hero besides Hazzard, who was responsible for putting him on the court, it would be Pooh Richardson.

UCLA's floor leader played probably the best final two minutes of his college career, beginning with a driving layup that cut Arizona's lead to 80-74 with 1:13 left.

When Miller missed a three-point attempt, Richardson got the long rebound and dispatched a three-pointer of his own with 25 seconds left to bring UCLA within one point, 83-82.

Then Richardson stole a pass from freshman Jud Buechler, playing because Sean Elliott had fouled out, and the Bruins took off for their last chance at pulling off an upset.

Hatcher missed from the left side, and Ken Lofton batted the rebound out to Richardson.

00:07--Richardson had the ball behind the three-point line. He saw Jackson near the free-throw line and got the ball to him.

00:04--Jackson, with his back to the basket, took the pass and spun around.

00:02--Jackson's jump shot is in the air.

00:01--The ball is in the basket.

00:00--The game is in the bag for UCLA.

Hazzard said he was playing a hunch. He said he used Jackson because of his experience and felt more comfortable with him on the court than Trevor Wilson or Charles Rochelin.

"I guess it really worked out," Hazzard said. "Craig shot a textbook jumper."

School was out for Arizona. The Wildcats went on recess a little too early after they got their big lead. They committed 10 turnovers in the second half and seemed to completely forget about their biggest offensive weapon, center Tom Tolbert.

None of the Bruin defenders Hazzard threw at at him was able to defend Tolbert, who had 27 points, but he did not take a single shot the last six minutes of the game.

Tolbert did, however, have a parting shot after the game.

"We outplayed them for 40 minutes, but we lost," Tolbert said. "They talk a lot. They have big egos. They think they are the hottest thing in basketball."

If the Bruins are thinking that, the way things are going right now for them, they may even be right.

Bruin Notes

As expected, most of the McKale Center crowd of 13,024 booed Reggie Miller every time he touched the ball, but there were no incidents involving Miller or anybody else. Coach Walt Hazzard was asked what he thought about the booing: "I'm not surprised. It's something they set up in their program." Miller, who said early last week that he would have something to say about Arizona Coach Lute Olson if UCLA won, was quiet on the subject instead. "To tell you the truth, I've been restricted," Miller said. . . . Center Jack Haley had his problems defending 6-8 Arizona center Tom Tolbert, but Haley finished with eight rebounds in his best game against a quality opponent. . . . UCLA (9-4) has a six-game winning streak. Arizona fell to 7-5 overall and 2-2 in the Pacific 10.

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