LOUISVILLE — With a resounding slam dunk, Trevor Wilson contributed to UCLA's lively comeback drive early in the second half, but he also knocked the 45-second clock off the top of the basket support. While time stood still, so that the electrician could fix the clock, Louisville Coach Denny Crum went to work on his team.
The Cardinals came back from the lengthy break shaken out of their lethargy and ready to run away with the game in the next few minutes. After leading by as many as 22 points, Louisville walked away with a 92-79 victory.
The crowd of 19,253 at Freedom Hall Saturday was a factor in the victory that left Louisville with a 7-5 record. No wonder UCLA has never won here.
UCLA, 0-4 on the road this season, dropped to 6-9 overall. The Bruins are 4-6 in these nonconference games, the ones UCLA Coach Walt Hazzard considers to be "just for fun."
Just exactly what Crum said to his team during the lapse was not for publication. He called it a "coaching secret."
Said Crum: "Sometimes you have to encourage them. Sometimes you have to yell. Sometimes you sub. Sometimes you just look at 'em cross-eyed. We had some words together."
Whatever he said, it worked. Over the next five minutes, the Cardinals rebuilt the kind of lead they had at halftime. A three-point basket by guard LaBradford Smith gave the Cardinals a 66-51 lead.
Louisville led by 14 at the intermission, due largely to 4-for-4 three-point shooting by guard Keith Williams.
Who would have guessed he could do that? Going into the game he was shooting three-pointers at a 33.3% rate. As Hazzard said in explaining the Bruins' game plan: "They are bigger and stronger and have more bulk than we do. We were trying to get some help inside so that we wouldn't get chopped up inside. We were playing the percentages, letting Williams shoot from the outside.
"But the kid just made some good shots."
Williams also played well against the Bruins' shooting guard, Dave Immel, who was 4 for 12 and finished with 10 points. The Bruins' point guard, Pooh Richardson, was really off his game, hitting just 4 of 15 shots.
Once again, the big effort for the Bruins came from Wilson, a 6-foot 8-inch sophomore who had 17 points and 10 rebounds. UCLA could have used Greg Foster, the 7-foot center who quit the team last week.
But one Trevor Wilson was not enough against the Cardinal front line of Pervis Ellison, Herb Crook and Kenny Payne.
Hazzard said, "We tried. We were outmanned today. But the team worked hard. It's tough to come in here and win. It was a good effort by our team. If we can just tighten up on some things . . . and get some confidence, I think we'll play some good games. Especially when we get back into the games that mean something, the conference games."
Hazzard said earlier in the week that he considered games such as this one against Louisville and the one the Bruins will play next month at Notre Dame the kind of games in which the Bruins should have some fun and "let it all hang out."
Because the Pac-10 gets an automatic berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament, Hazzard preaches the importance of the conference record and the conference tournament.
But the Bruins didn't have a lot of fun here Saturday. As Wilson put it, "Losing is never enjoyable. . . . It's tough when you're constantly playing catch-up."
Which is what the Bruins were doing after the first five minutes.
That's what happens when a team is outshot (55% to 45.5%), outrebounded (40-29) and overpowered (the Cardinals blocked eight shots). UCLA also had 22 turnovers, 7 on traveling calls. But the Bruins' turnovers were offset by the Cardinals' 23.
The Cardinals made 20 of 25 free throws; the Bruins 12 of 17.
Hazzard disputed only one call vehemently enough to get a technical foul. With 5:50 left in the game, and with the Bruins down by 18, Wilson took the ball up for a dunk. Hazzard thinks that Wilson was fouled on the way up. But, in any event, Wilson was called for a foul when he collided with Crook on the way down. What enraged Hazzard was that the basket didn't count. Hazzard was quite sure that the basket occurred before the foul.
Asked if the quick technical call had been the result of what he had said to the official, Hazzard said, "Probably." But Wilson, who had been close enough to hear what was said, upgraded that to "No doubt."
Smith, Louisville's freshman point guard, made one of the two technical free throws to give Louisville an 80-61 lead.
There was no way the Bruins were going to catch up at that point. Not even with Kevin Walker still adding three-point shots. Walker, a sophomore forward, came off the bench to make 3 of 3 three-pointers.
Maybe the Bruins would have had a chance if they could have kept the fast pace that they had going early in the second half, when they cut the lead from 14 points to 7. UCLA scored nine straight points on a three-point play by Richardson, a three-point shot by Immel and a three-point play by forward Craig Jackson.
Crum said, "I think we had a letdown at halftime. We came out a little bit flat. . . . My halftime speech must have been the wrong one. We let them back in the game. I thought for a couple of minutes we were just going through the motions."
But they snapped out of it.
The 13 points equaled the biggest loss of the Bruins' season. They also lost to Cal by 13.
Asked if he would like to give back the TV money and play a schedule that would help his record more, Hazzard said, "Part of being the coach here is that you have to live with these circumstances. We've been on the uptick before. This is the downside. We have to live with it. Last year we played Louisville on national TV, at home, and we won that game."
UCLA will be back to Pac-10 action later this week when they play at Arizona State Thursday night and at top-ranked Arizona next Sunday.