Bruins Hope to Avert Another Disappointment After Impressive Win
Jan 16, 2002
|UCLA's Billy Knight celebrates with the hometown fans after the Bruins defeated No. 1 Kansas at Pauley Pavilion.|
Now UCLA just has to learn to take care of the teams it is supposed to beat.
That will be the goal on Thursday for the No. 9 Bruins, who must avoid aletdown following their triumph over the nation's top-ranked team as theyreturn to Pac-10 play for a game at Arizona State.
UCLA (12-3, 4-1) beat Kansas 87-77 on Saturday to knock the Jayhawks fromthe top of the rankings.
However, the Bruins realize they often play to the level of theircompetition. They stepped up in the win over Kansas, but also suffereddisappointing setbacks earlier this season to Ball State and Pepperdine, andfell 81-77 to Southern California last Thursday.
'I think we want it more when we're playing the No. 1 team in thecountry,' UCLA's Matt Barnes said. 'We can be No. 1 if we want it everynight.'
'It shows our potential, but last Thursday showed what can happen when wedon't come out to play every game.'
Barnes had 27 points in Saturday's win after scoring a career-high 34 andhitting seven 3-pointers in the loss to USC. The senior forward is third on theteam with 14.0 points per game.
Like Barnes, shooting guard Billy Knight has increased his scoring inconference play, averaging a team-high 17.8 points in five Pac-10 games.
Knight and Barnes have contributed more on the offensive end while leadingscorer Jason Kapono, who averages 18.1 points, has been covered more closely byopposing defenses. The 6-foot-8 junior, who often has played point guard inrecent weeks, has averaged just 14.6 points in the last eight games.
Kapono is aware the Bruins can't afford to look past any teams that mayappear inferior.
'We always take for granted the Ball States and the Pepperdines,' Kaponosaid. 'Anytime we play the Georgetowns and Kansas, we come in and play withheart and passion.'
Following this contest, UCLA has back-to-back conference games againstranked teams - Arizona and Stanford.
First the Bruins try to continue their mastery of the Sun Devils. They havewon 24 of the last 25 meetings.
Arizona State (10-5, 3-3) has won five of six, including Saturday's 81-71victory over Washington State.
Curtis Millage had a career-high 24 points and Tommy Smith tied a seasonhigh with 19, helping make up for a relatively quiet game from Chad Prewitt.The senior forward had led the team in scoring in six straight games, averaging22.0 points in that span, before getting held to 13 on 4-of-11 shootingSaturday.