LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The game started out so much like last
season, even new UCLA coach Ben Howland wondered if his players
weren't having negative flashbacks.
The Bruins fell behind by 11 points, tossed up airballs, and
their defense allowed Taylor Coppenrath to score 20 of Vermont's 34
points in the first half.
There was booing as the Bruins left the floor, similar to the
fan reaction last season when UCLA finished 10-19. A year ago, the
Bruins lost their opener to San Diego in overtime, signaling the
start of what was to become their worst season in 52 years.
"Maybe in the back of their minds they were thinking, `Oh no,
here we go again," Howland said, "but they fought back. We
overcame adversity and that's what you have to be able to do."
Michael Fey had career highs with 20 points and eight rebounds
and UCLA rallied to beat Vermont 68-67 Saturday, making Howland a
winner in his debut.
Howland had 36 friends and family members at the game. He grew
up watching the Bruins from his hometown of Santa Barbara.
"It was big from that standpoint," he said. "It's nice to get
that first win."
Howland came from Pittsburgh to replace Steve Lavin, who was
fired in March after seven seasons and four appearances in the
Final 16 of the NCAA tournament.
"You can't really compare this year's team to last year," said
Dijon Thompson, who added 18 points. "This year's team is very
The Bruins spent the first 10 minutes of the second half erasing
their 11-point deficit with an 11-0 run. Janou Rubin had five
points and Fey four in the spurt that gave the Bruins their first
lead of the half, 43-41.
"I was being more active, the team was finding me in the
post," Fey said. "We wanted to take our time."
But Vermont (0-3) never went away. After being double-teamed
early in the half, Coppenrath broke loose and repeatedly hit big
baskets that kept it a four-point game or less over the final 11
"Coppenrath we had no answer for," Howland said. "He's going
to make money playing basketball someday."
Tied at 64, North Carolina transfer Brian Morrison hit a
3-pointer with 48 seconds left for UCLA. Moments earlier, Morrison
took a charge from Coppenrath that forced the Catamounts into a
"They both felt really good," Morrison said. "They were both
plays to win the game."
Coppenrath answered Morrison's basket with his own 3-pointer to
tie it at 67.
UCLA's Cedric Bozeman dribbled down the clock until he dished to
Hollins, who missed but got fouled. Hollins made the first free
throw, but had the crowd groaning when he missed the second.
Coppenrath, last year's player of the year in the America East
Conference, finished with 38 points, tying his career high.
Vermont coach Tom Brennan declined to speak to reporters after
UCLA freshman Trevor Ariza was set to start at forward, but
he'll miss at least two weeks because of a collapsed lung. Josiah
Johnson started in his place and grabbed six rebounds.
The Bruins also played without senior T.J. Cummings, who is
academically ineligible and could return in December.