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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / NCAA MEN'S TOURNAMENT : Enough Excitement for Bruins : West Regional: UCLA doesn't want any more close games after Missouri almost shows team the door.

March 21, 1995|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Maybe next time, Tyus Edney won't beat the clock.

Maybe if Missouri Coach Norm Stewart had inserted a true shot-blocker at the end of Sunday's game at Boise, Ida., UCLA wouldn't be talking about past NCAA champions and buzzer beaters.

Maybe, Coach Jim Harrick said 24 hours after Edney's full-court dash had propelled the Bruins to a 75-74, second-round West Regional victory in the NCAA tournament, UCLA had better not tempt fate by getting itself in that position again.

"If you start thinking it's destiny, you're going to lose your next game," Harrick said Monday afternoon. "I believe that with all my heart. You better come out and play. We better come out and play a lot better than we did.

"Because usually, boy, we're into people, and our hands are up and our feet are squeaking and we're rolling and guarding people, and (Sunday against Missouri) we didn't guard them."

Against Missouri's 12-for-19 shooting from three-point distance, Edney's dramatic drive carried the Bruins to their 15th consecutive victory and into Thursday's West Regional semifinals against Mississippi State at Oakland.

But, with center Erick Dampier and guard Darryl Wilson leading the Bulldog attack, the UCLA coaching staff warned that another sluggish defensive performance could spell the end of the season.

Dampier dominated Utah at both ends of the court in the Bulldogs' 78-64 victory Sunday, scoring 21 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking eight shots. Obviously intimidated by his 6-foot-11 body and subtle timing, Utah's four top inside scorers made only 15 of 47 shots.

Dampier made nine of 13 shots, and Wilson led all scorers with 32 points.

"For whatever reason, we didn't guard (Missouri) like we have guarded people the last month and a half," said Bruin assistant coach Mark Gottfried. "But most people don't get to apply that lesson until next December. And we get to apply it Thursday night.

"Hopefully, you learn from it. We have new life and others don't."

For the Bruin coaches, the inevitable feeling of relief after beating the Tigers might just be the mood with which to face Mississippi State, the West's fifth seed.

"I think that was an emotional win, but it's not like it was an upset," Harrick said. "It's like a sigh of relief. You got a second chance. You're not in jail, you're free on the street. You better get your act together or you're going to jail.

"We'll come ready to play Thursday night."

Said assistant Lorenzo Romar, "I think it's a credit to our team that we didn't play particularly well, we didn't defend as we have done so well early on, and they shot 63% (from three-point distance), they have not shot like that all year . . . yet we still won the game.

However sharp the warnings sounded by he and his staff, Harrick also took time Monday to savor the moments that led to Edney's sprint, behind-the-back dribble and four-foot "baby hook,' as the coaches call it--and the celebration after the ball fell through the rim as the buzzer sounded.

"I didn't want him to pass the ball," said Harrick, who, once he saw that Stewart hadn't put 7-foot shot-blocker Sammie Haley in the game, said he knew Edney could make it all the way to the basket.

"I wanted him to win it," Harrick said. "It's just because I've watched him so much in practice. He's gone in among trees--he has a great knack. He took that ball out over (6-9 Tiger Derek) Grimm, and boy I'll tell you, missed his hand (by) about an inch. When you think he went left-handed behind his back, full speed at half-court, I mean, there's not a lot of guys in the country that can do that. An incredible, incredible play."

Bruin Notes

Coach Jim Harrick, who had planned to take his team to Oakland tonight, postponed the trip until Wednesday to give the players another night at home after the long Boise stay. This is finals week and the Bruins did not practice Monday, but are scheduled to work out this afternoon.

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