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USC Thinks NIT; UCLA Gets Picked On : College basketball: Trojans feeling upbeat after Raveling evens his record against Harrick.

March 05, 1994|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

By 9 a.m. Friday, USC basketball Coach George Raveling's office was being swamped with calls, faxes and visits from well-wishers.

Fellow coaches 3,000 miles away sent their congratulations, and Trojan supporters who live within walking distance of the campus dropped in to add their verbal high-fives.

By 10 a.m., the Jim Harrick watch was in full swing as UCLA legend Bill Walton ripped the plight of his former team on a local sports radio program and Bruin fans called the station in agreement.

That was the diverse reaction to USC's 85-79 upset of 15th-ranked UCLA Thursday night before 9,677 at the Sports Arena.

In his coaching career, Raveling started out 3-23 against UCLA. But since Harrick became the Bruin coach, Raveling has a 6-6 record, including victories in six of their last nine meetings.

Now, the Trojans have won three of their last four games--including an overtime victory over No. 18 California--and are in position to gain an National Invitation Tournament bid for the second consecutive year.

"To come off a great win like we had against Cal and then to do it again, it just makes me feel great," said USC senior Mark Boyd, who became the first Trojan four-year starter to finish his career with a winning record against UCLA at 5-3. "We had to come out from the start and play with all kinds of intensity and emotion, and we did."

Although the Trojans can hope for only an NIT berth with a 14-11 overall record, they played more like a team trying to win. The NCAA tournament-bound Bruins often looked like a team playing not to lose.

A season-high six players scored in double figures for USC. Brandon Martin had 19 points, Boyd 17 points and six rebounds, Burt Harris 12 points and a season-high 12 assists, Tremayne Anchrum 12 points on four three-point baskets, Lorenzo Orr 10 points and eight rebounds and Stais Boseman 10 points and four steals.

UCLA was led by Tyus Edney with 20 points, but the Bruins got only 15 points combined from starters Shon Tarver and Charles O'Bannon.

"We took enough shots but missed them," Harrick said. "The looks we had at the basket were pretty good. We just missed them."

Another key for USC came with 14:11 left in the first half, when Edney, UCLA's starting point guard, got his third foul. Without him, the Bruins' half-court offense struggled, as they shot 32.1% from the field in the first half. UCLA made only three of 14 three-point shots in the game.

"It's hard for us to play without Tyus Edney in the game," said Harrick, whose Bruins have a 5-5 record after starting the season 14-0. "He was hampered by foul trouble. He was tentative when he was in the game. Without him playing at his speed, we're not the same basketball team."

It's difficult to believe that only five weeks ago, UCLA was rated No. 1 in the nation. If the Bruins lose at home to Louisville on Sunday, they might join a short list of teams who have been No. 1 only to drop out of the top 25 within a two-month period.

With remaining Pacific 10 games at Oregon State and Oregon next week, UCLA is looking at a possible third-place finish in the conference behind Arizona and California. If that happens, the Bruins might find themselves a low-seeded team with an uphill battle once the NCAA tournament begins in two weeks.

"I think that it's tough over the course of the conference season to sustain peak performance," Raveling said of UCLA's late-season slide. "But I think they'll be fine once they get in the tournament."

If recent history is any indication, Raveling might be right. USC has won the second meeting against the Bruins every season since 1989, but the Bruins have advanced to at least the second round in four of the five years.

For the Trojans, a sweep of the Oregon schools next week would all but assure them a berth in the NIT and a split would still leave them in good shape. To USC's advantage, it reached the NIT quarterfinals last season before losing to eventual champion Minnesota.

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