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COLLEGE BASKETBALL NCAA TOURNAMENT | NOTES

Bruins Thought the Ivy League Season Was Over

March 21, 1997|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Bruin seniors were not overly pleased when they were asked after the victory over Iowa State if they had flashbacks to past early tournament exits when they trailed the Cyclones by 16 points in the second half.

"I thought we were past that Princeton stuff," Charles O'Bannon said, fairly sharply. "We weren't thinking about a first-round loss, I was just thinking of advancing to the next round.

"We're not thinking about the Princeton game at all, just like we're not thinking about the Tulsa game [a first-round loss three years ago] or anything in the past."

Said Cameron Dollar: "The only time we think about Princeton is when you guys bring it up. It's only an issue with you guys."

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By going to a smaller lineup in the second half, replacing center Jelani McCoy with Kris Johnson, UCLA caused the Cyclones some troubles, Iowa State Coach Tim Floyd said.

"The smaller lineup was a problem," Floyd said. "It put Kelvin Cato on J.R. Henderson. I thought Kelvin did a nice job, but he picked two or three fouls."

McCoy, who scored 31 points in the Bruins' first two tournament victories, scored only six points in 18 minutes Thursday.

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Dedric Willoughby, the Cyclone who almost shot the Bruins out of the tournament, had UCLA in amazement for most of this game.

"Seemed like we either were in his face, or was going to make one," Dollar said.

"It was like we couldn't let him breathe, because if he had just a crack of air, he'd hit a three or do something."

Willoughby was 11 for 21 from the field, eight for 17 from three-point range, including the one that sent the game into overtime.

"I'm kind of in awe looking at the stats," Dollar said, "because I don't remember him hardly missing anything."

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UCLA Coach Steve Lavin said he flashed to Duke's miracle last-shot victory over Kentucky in 1992 when Iowa State had a last inbounds play with 1.9 seconds left in overtime. That's why he said he put McCoy on the passer, since Kentucky Coach Rick Pitino had failed to do that and given Duke a free look downcourt at Christian Laettner.

Iowa State tried to entice McCoy into a foul, but was called for a five-second count.

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This was the third time UCLA faced Iowa State in the tournament since 1989, when the seventh-seeded Bruins beat No. 10 Iowa State, 84-74, in a first-round Southeast Regional game. In 1993, also in a first-round game, the No. 9 Bruins beat the No. 8 Cyclones, 81-70. Overall, UCLA is now 6-0 against Iowa State.

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UCLA has been staying at the historic Menger Hotel--right next to the site of the Alamo. The hotel dates to the early 1800s and was where Geronimo was once imprisoned.

Lavin, a big baseball fan, was placed in the Babe Ruth suite, with a large picture of the Bambino placed in the room. Ruth once stayed in that suite.

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The Midwest Regional has been dominated by talk about a school that isn't even here.

In the days leading up to the regional semifinals, Clemson's Rick Barnes and Iowa State's Floyd have been mentioned in speculation about the Ohio State opening--and neither has commented about the possibility other than saying he wouldn't talk about speculation.

Back in Auburn Hills, Mich., for the first two rounds, both Xavier's Skip Prosser and Cincinnati's Bob Huggins were tossed out as possible Buckeye candidates to replace Randy Ayers.

About the only two coaches not mentioned from this regional have been from the two top-seeded teams, Lavin and Minnesota's Clem Haskins.

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