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Brigham Young Leaves UCLA Hanging : Bruins Can't Take Advantage of Opportunities in 87-80 Loss

December 06, 1987|TRACY DODDS | Times Staff Writer

While the game was hanging in the balance, Craig Jackson was hanging on the rim. For no apparent reason.

It wasn't that his hand was there, still, from the mighty dunk he had just slammed home. He had put up a much softer shot that didn't drop.

It wasn't that he was trying to save himself from a slam to the court. No one was cutting his legs out from under him.

The Bruin forward was just hanging there. And, of course, there was a whistle and a technical foul call.

BYU's Mike Smith sank the free throw to put the Cougars one step closer to their 87-80 victory over UCLA Saturday night before a crowd of 10,096 at Pauley Pavilion.

That makes three straight losses with St. John's coming in next week.

Brigham Young remained undefeated (4-0), its best start since it went 5-0 in the 1971-72 season.

And BYU was playing its third game on the road in five days. The Cougars had won at Utah State and at Washington State.

UCLA dropped to 1-3. BYU is the second Western Athletic Conference team that the Bruins have lost to this season. New Mexico, the team that knocked UCLA out of the Big Apple NIT tournament, is also in the WAC.

BYU Coach Ladell Andersen said: "Right now the WAC is as good as its been in a long time, maybe in the 27-year history of the league.

"That's because we have 13 of the top 15 scorers from last year back, along with the top rebounders. That's how you should judge the strength of a conference. We tend to give leagues credit based on reputation."

And right now BYU is a good basketball team, too.

Led by Jeff Chatman, a senior who had 24 points, and Smith, a junior from Los Altos High and Hacienda Heights, who had 23, the Cougars shot 62.1% from the floor and 76.5% from the free throw line.

The Cougars also gave the Bruins fits with a 1-1-3 zone and held up surprisingly well in the face of the Bruins' late-game press.

"They took us apart," UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard said. "They played well. They played very well. . . . But we had some opportunities when we missed some layups and had about three turnovers. In one stretch they made seven or eight without missing.

"I know the opportunities were there. It was 68-62 for a long time. For almost four minutes."

It was 68-62 when Jackson hung from the rim. It was 69-62 after the free throw.

BYU led by as many as 11 when Bruin forward Trevor Wilson made a fine play to save a defensive rebound from going out of bounds, then turned and threw the ball to BYU guard Brian Taylor--who scored to give the Cougars a 79-68 lead with 4:18 to play.

The Bruins tried to come back with three-point shots, and Kevin Walker came off the bench to make a couple, but it was too late.

In the first half, BYU came from nine points down to take a brief lead and then head for the lockerroom at halftime tied, 46-46.

UCLA had a 25-16 lead when the Cougars went to a zone that seriously hindered the Bruins' inside game. No wonder they stuck with it the rest of the way.

Hazzard said: "Their zone not only baffled us, it took us out of any kind of rhythm. We had some people going in the wrong place and jamming everything up. If you have one guy out of five going the wrong way, you have nothing."

Meanwhile, BYU was leaning heavily on its front line players and taking its game inside. Center Jim Usevitch added 14 points to the leading efforts of Chatman and Smith.

Taylor, who came off the bench to add 14, was perfect from the floor (4 for 4 including 1 3-pointer) while getting five more points from the free-throw line.

UCLA seemed to have solved its free throw-shooting problems, making 7 of 11 (63.6%) after making just 5 of 16 two nights earlier in losing to Temple.

UCLA has a week to prepare for St. John's, which it will play in a televised game next Saturday.

Before he left Pauley Pavilion late Saturday night, Andersen left these words of encouragement: "UCLA will keep getting beter, wiser and more mature as the season goes on. You have to be patient. They're young."

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