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UCLA Home Is Stanford Castle

College basketball: Cardinal, which has four consecutive victories at Pauley Pavilion, visits Bruins tonight.


Somebody ought to inspect the grant deed, but the rightful owner of Pauley Pavilion will pay a visit tonight.

Stanford has held title on the old fixer-upper for four years. The Cardinal generously allows UCLA to reside there most of the time but swings by every winter to make it clear who is boss, in case the Bruins have forgotten.

Last year UCLA rolled out the welcome mat, surrendering an early 15-point Cardinal run before falling, 85-79.

In 2000 and in 1999, Stanford took residence in the paint and controlled the boards, winning by 15 and 13 points.

And in 1998, Stanford withstood a 15-0 second-half streak by UCLA and won, 84-81, prompting Bruin senior Toby Bailey to say, "I hate Stanford."

It hardly matters to the Bruins that they won at Palo Alto the last two years, and that on both occasions the Cardinal was ranked No. 1. They are tired of another team being No. 1 in Westwood.

"They are the only team that beats us here like that," senior Billy Knight said. "For the seniors, we have one more chance to set things right."

Which means not providing Stanford with all the comforts of you-know-where.

Make no mistake. Right at home is precisely how the interlopers from the north feel. Like kicking their feet up on the couch, rifling through the refrigerator and leaving their socks on the floor.

Says so right on the bulletin board in the UCLA locker room.

There's a quote from Casey Jacobsen, Stanford's standout junior from Glendora, affectionately referring to Pauley as his favorite place to play. He says he looks forward to coming to UCLA the way most college kids pine for mom's cooking.

Just the way Jarron and Jason Collins did. And Arthur Lee did. And all the other Cardinal players over the last few years who grew up in the Southland.

Josh Childress, a freshman forward from Lakewood, is the latest.

Who is going to put a stop to it? Bruin freshmen?

"I don't want him and the other freshmen believing they can come here and do what they've done the last few years," Cedric Bozeman said.

Bruin seniors?

"I've never beaten them at Pauley, so I guess they have a right to say that," Rico Hines said. "But that's when we play better, after people have said bad things about us."

This Stanford team is less formidable than in the last three years, when it came in with rankings of No. 1, 2 and 4. Only Jacobsen is a returning starter, and although 7-foot center Curtis Borchardt is an All-American candidate, several inexperienced players are in key roles.

Stanford is still a bully on the boards, however, the best rebounding team in the Pacific 10 Conference.

"They work hard to get good position in the paint," UCLA center Dan Gadzuric said. "We need to play tight defense and not let them have second and third shots."

Gadzuric can't play Borchardt too tight because he has fouled out of three games in a row.

"I probably will play this game more cautious and not try to block as many shots," he said. "I have to let them know it's not going to be easy to make inside shots. But I need to make them alter their shots without fouling."

If Gadzuric can deny Borchardt shots, the scoring load falls to Jacobsen, who averages 19.7 points and possesses almost limitless range.

"Borchardt and Gadzuric is a pivotal matchup because Curtis is one of our two go-to guys," Coach Mike Montgomery said. "UCLA has more scoring diversity with Knight, [Jason Kapono] and [Matt] Barnes as their top three options."

Barnes has averaged 20 points over the last five games and scored 32 in last year's loss to Stanford. Kapono is UCLA's leading scorer at 18.6 points and Knight averages 15.9. All three will have a height advantage over their counterparts in Stanford's man-to-man defense.

"We match up well against them," Kapono said. "They are a different team this year and so are we."

The inference being that the outcome might also be different. But more important to UCLA Coach Steve Lavin than beating Stanford is continued balanced scoring, Gadzuric avoiding dumb fouls and Bozeman improving at point guard.

So he says.

"My goal is for us to be playing our best basketball six weeks from now," he said. "For me, it's another weekend, another challenge."

Of course, it was Bruin coaches who posted the Jacobsen quote on the bulletin board along with the scores from the four recent losses.

It was Bruin coaches who reminded the team that last year's loss ruined Earl Watson's final home game. And that before 1998, UCLA defeated Stanford in 30 of 32 meetings at Pauley.

"This game is important for a variety of reasons," Kapono said. "We need to win our conference home games. We are the home team."



It's Going to Be a Showdown

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