The rest of the University of Washington was still on holiday break Thursday, but not the basketball team.
For those 16 Huskies, school was clearly in session.
In a Pacific 10 Conference opener as lopsided as a three-wheeled wagon, UCLA got off to a rare roaring start, then cruised to an 86-64 victory before a crowd of 7,354 at Pauley Pavilion.
Lately, there has no better way for a Pac-10 team to ease into the conference schedule than by hosting the Washington schools, and the Bruins (6-4) took full advantage of their opportunity by taking a 49-16 lead at halftime. On deck is Washington State, which has never won at Pauley.
The game was another tour de force for UCLA center Dan Gadzuric, who was fresh off his best performance of the season--an eight-for-eight masterpiece at Purdue. Against Washington, Gadzuric contributed 19 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.
"He was unbelievable," point guard Earl Watson said. "Best big man in the country, in my opinion. He has things in his arsenal that people haven't even seen yet.
"Before the Purdue game, we challenged Dan to be the intimidator and control the paint. He's got so much energy with blocked shots, dunks. He's just a monster."
Playing in front of former teammate and current Charlotte Hornet Baron Davis, who was sitting in the third row, the Bruins shot 53.6% from the field and limited Washington to 35.5%, the lowest by a UCLA opponent this season.
The Bruins also notched season highs in rebounds (50) and steals (13).
When they weren't being eaten alive by Gadzuric in the paint, the Huskies (6-7) were struggling to cope with UCLA's press. In the first half, Washington had more turnovers (18) than points (16).
Simply getting the ball across the halfcourt stripe was a chore for the Huskies.
Husky forward Will Perkins scored 18 points. The other four starters combined for two.
"Our energy wasn't there," Washington Coach Bob Bender said. "They took advantage of it, then you could just feel the tightness getting worse and worse when we couldn't score and the turnovers were mounting. They were in command the whole way."
Of course, the Bruins said, that was the plan all along.
"They have young guards, so if we could get into them and cause pressure, we knew we knew we could get a lot of transition buckets," said 6-foot-7 forward Matt Barnes, who got in the face of Washington's guards on the press and obstructed the passing lanes. "We saw them staring at the coach, asking him what to do. That's a great position to have another team in. They were mentally frustrated and didn't know what to do. It really helped our transition game."
Unlike other games, when the Bruins leaned heavily on Jason Kapono's outside shooting, the star forward was almost an afterthought against Washington. He went almost 13 minutes without scoring, then found his groove and finished with 18 points, including four three-point baskets.
Watson (15 points) and freshman T.J. Cummings (13) also scored in double figures. Barnes added six points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
One of the few bright spots for Washington was freshman guard C.J. Massingale, who scored a game-high 25 points, including four three-pointers.
"I felt good for C.J.," Bender said. "He came in and wasn't afraid; he competed."
UCLA Coach Steve Lavin was pleased how his team played in the first half but said he was very disappointed in the way the players took their foot off the gas after halftime. Although the Bruins' lead never dipped below 20 points in the second half, they finished with 23 turnovers, made only seven of 16 free throws and at times were just as sloppy as the Huskies.
"In the first half, our kids came out with great energy," Lavin said. "I really thought the second half was a poor exhibition of basketball. Twenty-three turnovers are too many to win in this conference. We have a long way to go.
"The team and the staff are really disappointed right now."
If so, it didn't show in the locker room, where UCLA players were upbeat and energized by the victory.
"We earned this win," Watson said. "It wasn't just them giving it to us, we earned it. I mean, we've played teams with less talent that stayed around and almost beat us. We played smart."