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January 18, 2003|Mike Terry; Paul McLeod

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UCLA (11-4, 6-0) at No. 22 Arizona (11-4, 5-2), 1 p.m. PST, KBET (850), KTDD (1350) -- The Bruins squeezed past Arizona State, 60-58, Thursday for their seventh consecutive victory -- their longest such streak in three years -- and maintained their improbable hold on first place in the Pacific 10. What UCLA hasn't done this season is beat a ranked team, but they've played only one, losing to Georgia in December. Nikki Blue broke loose for 30 points against the Sun Devils, three shy of the UCLA freshman record set by Maylana Martin in 1997. Today Blue and the Bruins get their first look at another heralded freshman, Arizona 6-5 center Shawntinice Polk, who had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the Wildcats' victory over USC.

USC (6-11, 1-5) at Arizona State (11-5, 3-4), 6 PST -- The USC misery index rose another notch with its 79-76 loss Thursday to Arizona. The Trojans have lost four consecutive games and have won once in their last eight games. Ebony Hoffman, Aisha Hollans and Rometra Craig, who combined for 59 points against the Wildcats, need some help; no other Trojan had more than six points against Arizona. Yet USC may hold a key to beating Arizona State. The Trojan defense forces 24.9 turnovers a game. The Sun Devils had 23 turnovers against UCLA.

-- Mike Terry

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Cal State Northridge (6-8, 0-4) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (7-7, 3-2), 7 PST, KCSN-FM (88.5) -- Northridge is in a tailspin and it won't be easy to get out of it against the Mustangs, who tagged Pacific with its first conference loss Thursday. San Luis Obispo has won six of its last nine games and four in a row at home. Northridge has lost six consecutive -- the first time it has done that in seven seasons under Coach Bobby Braswell.

Pacific (8-5, 3-1) at UC Santa Barbara (6-9, 3-2), 7 PST, KEYT (1250) -- Pacific's seven-game winning streak came to an end Thursday at San Luis Obispo, while Santa Barbara, picked to win the conference title in a coaches' preseason poll, had its most impressive display of the season to beat fast-fading Northridge. Santa Barbara has won four of five at home.

UC Riverside (2-8, 1-3) at Cal State Fullerton (5-9, 3-1), 7 PST, KPRO (1570), KWRM (1370) -- Fullerton last won a league title in 1975-76 when it shared the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. crown with Long Beach State. But the Titans enter tonight's game in a three-way tie for the Big West lead with UC Irvine and Pacific. The Titans have already equaled the number of overall wins they had in each of the last two seasons. Titan center Pape Sow remains on suspension after his petty theft conviction. Fullerton officials say he intends to appeal. A decision is due within 10 days. Fullerton guard Ralphy Holmes is questionable after he re-injured his right shoulder in Tuesday's loss at Idaho State.

Idaho (6-8, 2-3) at UC Irvine (9-4, 3-1), 7 PST, KUCI-FM (88.9) -- Idaho must be the most frustrated team in the Big West. The Vandals have played everyone tough but have only two conference victories to show for it. Trailing by three points in the final seconds Thursday at Long Beach, Idaho missed four three-point attempts that would have tied the score. They lost, 57-53. Irvine is two-time defending Big West regular-season champion and is in a three-way tie for first place after Mike Hood made a last-second shot in overtime Wednesday to defeat visiting Utah State.

Utah State (12-4, 3-2) at Long Beach State (2-11, 1-3), 7:30 PST -- Long Beach, which got its first victory of the season against an NCAA Division I opponent when it beat Idaho Thursday, expects the Aggies to come roaring into the Pyramid after that last-second overtime loss at UC Irvine. Utah State has won six of its last eight games against Long Beach but is only 2-5 in the Pyramid. The Aggies lead the Big West in team defense and are 8-0 when keeping an opponent under 60 points.

-- Paul McLeod

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