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UCLA BASKETBALL FYI

Arizona wants to win at Pauley Pavilion

Wildcats have lost seven in a row to the Bruins. They come to Westwood on Thursday.

January 14, 2009|David Wharton

Not long ago, the UCLA coaches posted a certain newspaper clipping in the locker room.

The article, from the Tucson Citizen, quoted Arizona guard Nic Wise talking about his team's desire to win at UCLA this season, saying: "That's one thing we focus on every day in practice -- Pauley Pavilion."

This from a team that is looking to break a string of seven losses to the Bruins.

As UCLA swingman Michael Roll said: "We can't let that happen."

For freshman guard Jrue Holiday, the bulletin board material drove home something that he has been hearing since the start of the season.

"Coach tells us every game that every team is going to give us their best game," he said. "And every game we have to come back with something strong."

The Wildcats (11-5), who play at UCLA on Thursday night, are rebounding from the unexpected retirement of coaching legend Lute Olson this fall but have proven talent in Wise, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill.

"They feel like they've been reinvented into a new style of play," UCLA guard Darren Collison said. "They're going to definitely try to beat us on our home court."

For starters

Coach Ben Howland says he is "anticipating" that Nikola Dragovic will start at power forward Thursday night.

Dragovic got his first start against USC on Sunday, replacing James Keefe in the lineup, and scored a career-high 14 points.

Keefe is considered the better defender, though Howland said "I think that Nik has closed the gap."

On offense, the coach says he believes Dragovic represents a big man who can dribble, move without the ball and shoot from outside.

"He gives us another threat where he can be another double-figure scorer," Howland said. "You've got to worry about him."

Hometown player

Arizona guard Kyle Fogg has proven to be a pleasant surprise for the Wildcats, settling into a starting spot as a freshman.

Fogg was a late spring signee out of Brea Olinda High, not ranked among the top prospects in the nation, but interim Coach Russ Pennell has found plenty to like.

"He's one of the most coachable kids on the team," Pennell said. "You give him an assignment and he's good about being detailed and getting down to it."

Pennell describes Fogg as a capable defender and opportunistic scorer.

Starting 10 of 16 games this season, the guard is fifth on the team at 5.3 points a game and has an average of 2.4 rebounds. He has 21 assists against 16 turnovers.

Injury report

Freshman center J'mison Morgan is making his way back slowly from a groin injury and was expected to participate in about 30 minutes of practice Tuesday.

Guard Malcolm Lee was back in uniform against USC after recovering from a knee injury but did not play. Howland said he has continued to practice and could play against Arizona.

--

david.wharton@latimes.com

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