March 9, 2001
SEATTLE (AP) - In December, UCLA was focused on just qualifying for the NCAA tournament.Now the No. 13 Bruins have a chance to further their case for a top-three seedwhen they wrap up Pac-10 play at Washington.
UCLA (21-7, 14-3) pulled within one game of the conference lead Thursdaywith an 86-76 win over Washington State. Jason Kapono scored 28 points as theBruins rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to win their 19th straightagainst the Cougars.
'It could have been a blowout, but we did a good job of keeping our poiseand scratching our way back in the game,' Lavin said. 'We were fortunate tocome back.'
UCLA still has a chance to share the Pac-10 crown, but must beat Washingtonand have No. 1 Stanford lose to Arizona State on Saturday. However, the Bruinscannot earn the conference's automatic bid.
Still, the Bruins are hoping they've already done enough to earn one of thetop three seeds from the NCAA tournament selection committee. UCLA has aRatings Percentage Index ranking of 6 and has lost just once in its past ninecontests. Two of the main criteria for selection and seeding are a team's RPIand its performance in its last 10 regular season games.
Kapono, a sophomore forward who last summer declared for the NBA draft butlater withdrew at the deadline, leads UCLA with 17.4 points per game. Seniorcenter Dan Gadzuric leads in rebounding with 7.1 per game and senior guard EarlWatson tops the team in assists with 5.1 per contest.
Washington (9-20, 3-14) will be looking to pull off a major upset to end itsseason. The Huskies' losing streak reached eight games with a 85-56 hammeringat the hands of Southern California on Thursday.
Will Perkins scored 19 points as the Huskies reached the 20-loss mark forthe first time since 1993-94, coach Bob Bender's first season at the school.
Washington will play without starting center Marlon Shelton, who tore a kneeligament going for a rebound Thursday.
The Huskies have not fared well against the Bruins, losing 24 of the last 29meetings. However, Washington won the last matchup, pulling off a 63-62 upsetof then-No. 24 UCLA on Jan. 6, 2000 at Seattle.
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