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NOTES

Positives Don't Come Easy

February 06, 2003|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

Scoot over, 1962 New York Mets.

Leave some room at the table, 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

UCLA is about to join you in the pantheon of lovable losers.

Certainly the 10,147 at the Sports Arena loved the way the Bruins allowed them to forget Trojan problems for one night.

Loved that USC could eighty-six the Bruins despite sloppy ballhandling and poor shooting.

Loved the way the Bruins squandered the last 4.4 seconds, putting the ball into the hands of seldom-used Jon Crispin and settling for a desperation 30-foot shot.

Loved that hardly a single blue and gold Bruin fan could be spotted among the sea of cardinal and gold Wednesday night.

The ninth Bruin loss in a row was memorable only because the score was close at the end. UCLA actually had a chance to win.

But few who have watched the Bruins all season honestly believed they would find a way.

It's been that kind of season.

"We don't expect to get a break," UCLA forward Jason Kapono said. "We'll have to make a break some day."

Is there a ray of hope? The Mets became World Series champions in 1969 and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2003.

Perhaps UCLA, with five sophomores and three freshmen, only needs time.

"We're a young team and all we can do is get better," freshman center Mike Fey said. "Hopefully we can turn it around and not have another season like this."

Ryan Hollins, another freshman center, isn't ready to focus on the future, despite a losing streak that is the team's longest since 1938-39.

"No doubt this will be a good team someday," he said. "There will be bright things down the road and we'll learn from this.

"But we can't give up on this season. Not yet."

*

Bruin forward Andre Patterson started for the first time since spraining his left ankle against Stanford on Jan. 23, but he picked up three first-half fouls in seven minutes.

Patterson played 15 minutes in the second half and finished with six points and six rebounds.

*

The voice of Bruin radio color commentator Don MacLean was heard the last time the Trojans swept the Bruins too.

MacLean was UCLA's star forward in 1992 when USC won at Pauley Pavilion. Afterward, he said, "To lose to a team like this, in our own gym, is a joke. And there's no way that should happen. On their best day, they shouldn't be able to beat us."

During the rematch at the Sports Arena, the Trojans wore T-shirts under their jerseys with MacLean's statement printed on the front and "beat UCLA" on the back. USC won, 83-79.

*

Ryan Walcott made his first basket in seven games when he sank a three-point shot with 5:42 to play that pulled UCLA within 71-67.

The sophomore guard made another three-pointer 90 seconds later to put the Bruins ahead, 75-73.

*

Bruin guard Cedric Bozeman crumpled into a heap holding his right shoulder with 3:33 left in the first half.

He returned to begin the second half, however, and played 20 minutes.

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