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USC-UCLA REPORT

Game Gets Ugly for Kapono

January 09, 2003|Steve Henson | Times Staff Writer

It was as if Jason Kapono stood in molasses in the first half, unable to free himself for an open look. He was Judicious Jason, unselfish and unwilling to force a shot.

In the second half, he became Cold Kapono, unable to get UCLA out of trouble despite getting open repeatedly.

The senior forward missed nine of 10 shots and seven of eight from three-point range in the second half and UCLA fell, 80-75, to USC on Wednesday night.

The career-high 44 points Kapono scored at Washington State on Saturday?

A distant memory.

"When you come off a good game and they take you out of what you want to do, it's frustrating," he said.

The exertion of trying to get open early made for heavy llegs late.

"They went with a box and one and shadowed me in the first half," he said. "Then I got somewhat tired."

He shot an airball with UCLA trailing, 56-50.

He missed with UCLA trailing, 74-68.

He missed with UCLA trailing, 76-70.

When he finally made a three-pointer with 30 seconds left, it was far too little, too late, and he knew it. His 10 points on four-of-15 shooting continued a disturbing trend of cold shooting at home, and this one led to USC winning at Pauley Pavilion for the first time since 1993.

"Very disappointing," he said.

Kapono wasn't even the best shooter in a headband. USC's Desmon Farmer scored 25 points, making five three-pointers.

"I think we took his legs out," Farmer said of Kapono.

*

Ray Young was everywhere, just not for very long.

The Bruin senior guard had one of his strongest stretches of the season in the first half, shooting well, grabbing three rebounds, finding an open teammate for an assist, and tipping away Trojan passes for turnovers.

Young did not enter until more than nine minutes had elapsed and played nine minutes in the half.

He played only six minutes in the second half, but had two spectacular assists, normally not his forte. Young made a no-look pass on a fastbreak to Dijon Thompson for a layup, then less than a minute later hit Thompson again after faking a 12-foot jumper.

Moments later he found himself on the bench.

"You have to take the time you get," he said. "It's not my decision. I just go in and play hard and try to help the team win."

From the bench, he didn't like what he saw.

"[The Trojans] weren't afraid of nothing," he said. "We played scared and timid toward the end."

*

Bruin point guard Ryan Walcott had a career-high 11 assists and forward T.J. Cummings had a career-high 14 rebounds, five more than his previous best.

Nick Curtis of USC had his third double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The performance came on the heels of his 17-point, 15-rebound effort at Washington.

*

UCLA Coach Steve Lavin downplayed the rivalry angle.

"It's a tough conference loss," he said. "Obviously it makes it tougher because of the rivalry, but we need to sustain our effort for 40 minutes no matter who we play."

Up Next for UCLA

Saturday vs. St. John's, noon -- The Red Storm is 7-4 but has lost four of its last six after opening with five victories. Senior guard Marcus Hatten averages 21.6 points.

-- Steve Henson

Up Next for USC

Saturday vs. Pennsylvania, 8 p.m. at the Forum -- The Trojans and defending Ivy League champions have met six times, with the Quakers holding a 4-2 advantage.

-- Paul Gutierrez

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