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Bruins Overcome Sixth Man

College basketball: Arizona wastes rare technical foul and UCLA stages big rally, 76-75.

February 16, 1996|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Twists, screeching turns and a walloping, double-shock ending. Was this a roller-coaster ride or a basketball game?

Two wild moments of the highest drama and lowest comedy catapulted this UCLA-Arizona game into the archives, and sent nerve endings of the 13,014 in attendance at Pauley Pavilion into an emergency state.

By the end of it Thursday night, after UCLA's Kris Johnson made his free throw--and Arizona's Miles Simon missed his two free throws--both teams were out of breath, Arizona was out of wishes, and the Bruins had a 76-75 victory.

"We just stuck in it, and stuck in it," Johnson said, "and then we pulled it out."

In a game that may have won the Bruins the Pacific 10 title, the most bizarre 26 seconds of this, or perhaps any, season, transformed UCLA from hard battlers to dunderheaded losers to valiant victors, from fools to the free-throw blessed.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 16, 1996 Home Edition Sports Part C Page 3 Sports Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
UCLA basketball--Freshman center Jelani McCoy has said he would never forgive Bruin fans for booing the team. Because of an editing error, the attribution was incorrect in a caption underneath a photograph of Cameron Dollar in The Times on Thursday.

UCLA fought back from a 19-point deficit in the early going with suffocating second-half defense, hard rebounding by Jelani McCoy (13 in the game) and a season-best 14 points by Cameron Dollar.

With the score tied, 75-75, it was UCLA's ball with 26 seconds left after Simon had made consecutive baskets to bring the Wildcats back from a four-point deficit.

The UCLA coaching staff sent Johnson in for McCoy, who was being treated for leg cramps and did not hear the substitution. McCoy wandered onto the floor, and, in what seemed at the time like an unbelievable, game-losing moment, the Bruins were whistled with a technical foul for having too many men on court.

"Obviously, we didn't get it communicated to Jelani," UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said. "I have to take responsibility for that. Jelani was not in the huddle, he was getting attended by our trainer."

That meant UCLA lost possession of the ball, and had to watch as Simon made two free throws to pull ahead.

Simon, who made five of his first six attempts from the line in the game and who won Arizona's game last Sunday with a 65-footer at the buzzer, missed the first. Then he missed the second.

"In high school, we played each other when he was at Mater Dei [and Johnson was at Crenshaw] in the Southern Section playoffs, and it was the same situation, Miles at the free-throw line with five seconds left, and he missed those," Johnson said. "He missed it again."

After the second miss, Arizona retained possession because of the technical. Ben Davis missed an inside shot with less than 10 seconds remaining. Johnson blocked out for the rebound, then, in a situation fouls are rarely called, grabbed the ball as Wildcat forward Joe MacLean swiped at it, and MacLean was called for a foul with one second left in the game.

"Yeah, I was fouled," Johnson said. "He grabbed my arm. I thought the foul was obvious."

Arizona Coach Lute Olson had a different opinion: "I hate to see in our conference when teams don't get a chance to decide the game. With three kids going up for the ball, I think the kids should decide it."

In UCLA's previous game, several weird calls and freak situations helped lift Stanford to a one-point victory. Thursday, the Bruins (17-6, 10-2 in conference) were thinking about that when quizzed about the validity of such a game-deciding call, 90 feet away from a basket.

This was the type of win it was for UCLA: The Bruins did not take their first lead until there was only 2:17 left to play, 73-71, on two free throws by Toby Bailey.

UCLA began with an overdose of adrenaline and a slew of turnovers, then got dominated underneath by Davis, Arizona's 6-foot-9 center who had a game-high 25 points--but only four in the second half, when McCoy clamped down on him and Harrick eschewed the double-coverage strategy of the first half.

The 13th-ranked Wildcats (18-5, 7-4) sprinted off to a lead that got as large as 19, at 35-16, after 13 1/2 minutes.

Davis made all seven of his shots in the first half, made seven of eight free throw tries, for 21 points, and grabbed eight rebounds. But, after Dollar came into to calm things down, UCLA charged back--aided by Wildcat turnovers.

With J.R. Henderson slicing into the middle and leading the break for two big finishes by Bailey, the lead was only 45-36 at the half.

Started by a stunning, soaring slam by Kevin Dempsey (who also tossed in a three-point shot during the run), the Bruins took off on their own 14-5 rumble, cutting Arizona's lead to 65-63 with 7:42 left.

"[Dempsey] was unbelievable," Johnson said. "He came in with that dunk, everybody got all hyped and excited."

With 1:58 left, McCoy was fouled trying to dunk. After he had to leave because of cramps, Johnson was sent in to shoot the free throws, and made both, for a four-point UCLA lead.

But Simon, who bombed in 28 points in Arizona's victory at Tucson last month, got inside UCLA's defense on two consecutive possessions to set up the last 26 seconds.

* USC LOSES: Ron Riley's three-pointer is a winner for Arizona State. C6

* OREGON TOPS CAL: Jamal Lawrence leads late charge by Ducks. C6

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Pacific 10 Race

*--*

Conf. Overall Team W L W L UCLA 10 2 17 6 Stanford 9 3 16 5 Arizona 7 4 18 5 Washington 7 4 14 6 California 7 5 13 8 Oregon 5 7 12 11 Washington State 4 7 12 8 Arizona State 4 7 9 11 USC 4 8 11 13 Oregon State 1 11 3 18

*--*

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