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NCAA BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT : It's Munchie Game for Bruins: Chips and Dips in Opener

March 13, 1987|THOMAS BONK | Times Staff Writer

SALT LAKE CITY — UCLA took Central Michigan to night school Thursday and quickly conjugated the Chippewas.



Yes, the Chippewas were no match for UCLA and now they're a part of the NCAA playoffs only in the past tense, placed there by the Bruins, who reeled off a 32-point lead by halftime and finished up with a 92-73 blowout in the first round of the West Regional.

The Bruins (25-6) move on to Saturday's second round to play Wyoming (23-9), which defeated Virginia, 64-60, in the last game of the night at the University of Utah's Special Events Center.

What UCLA did was a pretty special event in itself. UCLA's 19-point margin is kind of deceiving because the game was never really close. Not after what Reggie Miller did to Central Michigan in the first 20 minutes.

Here's the halftime score:

Reggie 24, Chippewas 21.

It was a mismatch, just as some had thought it would be. With all the Bruin fast-break layups, this wasn't a game, it was one big cocktail party. Chips and dips were being served.

It was also a wide-open running game, which is what the Chippewas do best, only they don't do it as well as UCLA.

Certainly there was no one doing it any better than Miller, who said the game was just a race.

"They put on their sneakers and we went at it," said Miller, who hung some pretty big numbers: 32 points, 13 rebounds, 9 free throws, 3 three-pointers, 2 steals.

The Bruins knew they were in a game only twice, not counting the opening tip.

The first time was when they led, 14-13. That notion quickly passed once UCLA outscored the Chips, 39-8, the rest of the half.

The other time doesn't really count since it happened when the score was 79-41. But UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard was surely counting while Central outscored the Bruins, 32-10, in the seven minutes.

"They scared me to death," Hazzard said. "You sit there and it seems like time isn't moving. You are hoping the clock burns out."

But miracles were in short supply for the Chippewas, who played the only way they know how, even though it also just happened to be the same way the Bruins do.

By halftime, the Bruins had turned their fast-break on the Chippewas and fractured them with it. UCLA led, 53-21, and not even a stream of three-pointers by Tommie Johnson (18 points) or a raft of Bruin turnovers could change that.

Out in Reggie Range, Miller continued his assault on the basket that now covers seven games. The 32 points he scored is his average in that stretch.

Miller, who shot 10-for-13, was only one shot away from perfect in the first half when he made 8 of 9 field goal attempts and each of his 3 three-pointers.

"We wanted him to take a couple of those damn jumpers, but he hit them and we were out of the ball game," said Central Michigan Coach Charlie Coles, who admitted to something less than total recall of the game.

He said the Chips got off to a bad start, never recovered and the game was physical. Anything else?

"That's all I can remember," he said.

Coles is forgetting a lot of stuff. Like Montel Hatcher's 360-degree slam dunk (22-15). Like Reggie's driving reverse layup from the baseline (26-15). Like Reggie's fallaway, fall down 18-footer (28-15). Like Pooh Richardson's coast-to-coast layup (36-19). Like the ball Reggie lofted from 25 feet that had ice on it when it came down (39-19).

Notice that one name crops up more than any other. As usual, it is Miller, who was uncharacteristically humble afterwards.

"I'm not saying we're no great team, but we ARE a good team," Reggie said. "All I wanted to do was win the first game. I didn't care if it was by a blowout or by one point."

It was by a blowout. UCLA's 53 points were a season high for a half. The Bruins' 71.4% shooting was bettered only once, in a blowout at Oregon.

UCLA also outrebounded Central Michigan, 47-30, and Miller led there, too, while getting his career high. Richardson had eight.

The Chippewas, ranked No. 10 in the nation in shooting, shot airballs and backboard smashers in the first half when they hit only 27% and had only one more field goal than Miller.

As blowouts go, this one was par for the course, although it didn't come wrapped up in a tidy little package. The Bruins made 22 turnovers and 13 of them occurred in the second half, probably when they got bored by leading so much.

"I kind of got upset because we were letting them back in the game," Hatcher said.

The Chippewas didn't get far enough back in. Three-pointers by Johnson, four of them, couldn't do it. Neither could 17 points and 13 rebounds by Dan (Thunder) Majerle or 14 points from Ervin (Lightning) Leavy. This time, Thunder and Lighting were only a minor squall.

Coles said he didn't think anything would have rescued the Chips anyway.

"I didn't think we could come back," he said. "I just didn't know how we could do it."

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