UCLA Blows Past Ole Miss
March 15, 2002
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- UCLA senior guard Rico Hines decided to accessorize hissneakers for the NCAA tournament by writing 'Final Four' on the sides.
'I don't know if any of the guys saw that,' said Hines, a fifth-yearsenior. 'But that's been one of my goals for my six years here. I wanted tosend a message.'
The Bruins delivered one - loud and clear.
Billy Knight made three straight 3-pointers to open the second half as UCLAadvanced to the second round of the West Regional with an 80-58 victory overMississippi on Friday night.
The eighth-seeded Bruins (20-11), who entered having lost four of their lastsix and have been inconsistent the past two months, looked like a team capableof making a run deep into the tournament.
'They talk about teams that are hot coming in,' Knight said. 'But thatdoesn't mean anything. It's what you do when you get here.'
To advance farther, the Bruins will have to get by top-seeded Cincinnati inthe second round Sunday. Behind Steve Logan's 27 points, the Bearcats rolled toa 90-52 win over 16th-seeded Boston University.
Knight finished with 21 points and freshman Dijon Thompson had 16 for theBruins, who got a huge lift from their bench.
Led by their heralded freshmen class of Thompson, Andre Patterson and RyanWalcott, along with Hines and T.J. Cummings, UCLA's reserves outscored theBruins' first unit 42-38.
Jason Kapono, the Bruins' leading scorer this season, had just 2 points - 14under his average.
'We went with our hockey substitution there for a while,' Bruins coachSteve Lavin said. 'Our young kids played with a lot of energy.'
Aaron Harper had 19 points and Justin Reed 14 to lead Ole Miss (20-11),which was hoping a win over college basketball's most storied program, mightget it some national respect.
UCLA, though, had other plans. And maybe some bigger ones, too.
'We're going to go out swinging,' Hines said.
With UCLA leading by 10, Knight opened the second half with a 3-pointer, andon the Bruins' next trip he drained another long-range jumper.
After a steal, Knight couldn't stop smiling as he ran to the same spot onthe floor and pleaded for the ball. And almost as quickly as Kapono hit himwith a pass, Knight swished another 3 to put the Bruins up by 19.
'I was in a slump the last four games,' Knight said, who isn't in one anylonger. 'My teammates were finding me and I just felt it.'
The Rebels, who shot just 34 percent, couldn't find the range against UCLA'szone defense. Ole Miss couldn't hit, going 10-for-35 on 3-pointers. Guard JasonHarrison missed all nine of his attempts behind the arc.
'I wanted to stay aggressive, I didn't want to have any regrets when it wasover,' Harrison said.
Rebels coach Rod Barnes had no problem with his team continuing to fireaway.
'You can miss shots but you can't get beat in the transition game and onfree throws,' he said. 'We said if they played their game it would be intheir favor, and if we played our game, it would be in our favor. Clearly, itwas in their favor.'
Unhappy with what he was getting from his starters, Lavin benched all fiveand brought in his reserves midway through the first half.
The kids responded as Thompson scored 10 points and Patterson five in a 15-0run that put UCLA up 28-13. Lavin nearly brought his starters back during thespurt, but called them back from the scorer's table when Thompson hit a shortjumper.
Harper then went on a personal 9-0 run with three straight 3-pointers tobring the Rebels within two, but Knight hit a long 3 as the Bruins closed withan 8-0 burst to lead 36-26 at halftime.
The Bruins, who were ranked as high as No. 3 this season, then opened thesecond half by scoring 13 straight, and coasted toward an interestingsecond-round matchup with Cincinnati.