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MARCH MADNESS / NCAA TOURNAMENT | NOTES

Pointless Game for the Bench

March 16, 2001|SAM FARMER

GREENSBORO, N.C. — UCLA players might have a place to sit along the sideline, but there was little statistical evidence from Thursday's game to suggest the Bruins have a bench.

Three reserves played in the 61-48 victory over Hofstra--Ryan Bailey, Ray Young and T.J. Cummings--and each went scoreless. Bailey made the only contribution of note, collecting one rebound, one assist and two steals.

"We really need the bench," guard Billy Knight said. "That's the main thing that will get us far in the tournament, because a team can't get by with just five players. We've just got to try to help the bench out, get their confidence up, tell them that they don't need to do something as soon as they get out there. That's the problem I had earlier in the season; I thought I had to come out and do something right away."

The player who looked most tightly wound was freshman forward Cummings, whose playing time dwindled as the season wore on. He played seven minutes Thursday and never got into the flow.

"It was a little first-tournament-game jitters," he said. "Some of the fellas told me it was just something you go through. Earl [Watson] pulled me aside and said that he and Baron [Davis] both went through the same thing. They had bad first games, then bounced back in the second game."

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Watson lobs a lot of alley-oop passes but seldom is he on the receiving end. He was Thursday, though, catching a pass from Matt Barnes and throwing down a jam. It was his second dunk of the game, the first punctuating a baseline drive.

"I was frustrated all season because I wasn't dunking a lot, and I know I have the talent to do it," he said. "I was like, starting the tournament no matter what, I'm going to go hard every single second. If I have to get a charge and dunk on somebody, I'm going to do it. Just seeing how it affects the team, and playing with a guy like Baron who has just done amazing things as far as dunking on people, I wanted to give some inspiration to my team."

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