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January 12, 2003|Rob Fernas, Mike Terry

MEN

Pepperdine (9-5, 1-0) at Gonzaga (10-5, 1-0), 1 p.m., Fox Sports Net 2, KPLS (830) -- At least one of these teams has won the last five West Coast Conference regular-season titles, and they shared the championship last year. They were both considered favorites this season before illness and injury sidelined three of Pepperdine's top six players. Gonzaga would seem to have an advantage because of its physical front line, but Pepperdine poses problems with its quickness and balance. Guards Alex Acker and Mike Westphal, a reserve, are playing well and have added to the Waves' offensive options. The key for Pepperdine is how well it defends in the post. Gonzaga draws a lot of fouls with its aggressive attack, led by forwards Ronny Turiaf and Cory Violette. Point guard Blake Stepp provides an outside threat for the Bulldogs, who have beaten Pepperdine in nine of the last 10 meetings in Spokane.

-- Rob Fernas

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WOMEN

USC (6-9, 1-3) at UCLA (9-4, 4-0), noon, KBET (850), KTDD (1350) -- Usually this game needs no additional incentives. And typically there are more than enough for both sides. The Bruins haven't forgotten USC Coach Chris Gobrecht derisively pointing at the scoreboard in front of a jeering Pauley Pavilion crowd after being ejected for arguing with the officials. UCLA is also tired of the Trojans' recent dominance; USC has won three in a row and four of the last five. But this season continues to be a downer for the Trojans, who have lost seven of nine, including Thursday's 72-57 nonconference defeat against No. 21 Santa Barbara. A loss today would put the Trojans into a widening Pacific 10 Conference hole, especially with games against Arizona, Arizona State and Stanford looming in the next two weeks.

-- Mike Terry

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