LOS ANGELES (AP) -- As the first major step in coach Ben
Howland's rebuilding process, UCLA appears headed for its first
NCAA tournament 10 years after winning its last national title.
Freshman Josh Shipp matched his career high with 20 points,
Michael Fey had 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots, and
the Bruins beat Oregon 73-61 Saturday to finish the regular season
on a four-game winning streak.
The Bruins (18-9, 11-7 Pac-10) haven't played in the NCAA
tournament since 2002. Sixty of the last 61 Pac-10 teams to finish
the season with at least 11 wins against league opponents were
"I'm really pleased about this," said Howland, finishing his
second year as UCLA's coach after succeeding Steve Lavin. "I think
we have some momentum now and we're playing our best basketball at
the right time of the year.
"I feel good, but I'm not taking anything for granted. There's
one sure way to know we're in (the NCAA tournament), and that's to
UCLA was 11-19 under Lavin two years ago and 11-17 under Howland
Jim Harrick coached UCLA to its 11th national championship in
1995. John Wooden guided the Bruins to 10 titles in a 12-year span
before retiring as coach in 1975.
The Bruins finished in a tie for third in the Pac-10 with
Stanford, but will be seeded fourth in the conference tournament
since they were swept by the Cardinal. UCLA faces face fifth-seeded
Oregon State in a first-round game Thursday at Staples Center.
"Definitely, we're thinking about it," Shipp said of the NCAA
tournament. "It's out of our control. If we go out and win the
Pac-10 tournament, we're definitely in it."
The conference tournament champion gets an automatic berth in
the NCAA tournament.
Arron Afflalo scored 11 points and Dijon Thompson and Jordan
Farmar added 10 each for the Bruins. Thompson, a senior and UCLA's
top scorer and rebounder, was playing his last game at Pauley
Pavilion. He also had 12 rebounds to lead his team to a 42-22
advantage in that department.
"I can't say enough about Dijon Thompson," Howland said. "He
has led this team to where we are now."
By losing, Oregon (14-13, 6-12) failed to qualify for the
eight-team conference tournament. The youthful Ducks, who started
9-1 before losing 12 of their last 17, have five freshmen, six
sophomores and two juniors on their roster.
"We are a young team and we're going through a lot of growth,"
Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "At times, it's going to be hard.
There is a lot of development to still come to this team. For the
continued growth of this program, there is no rest."
"We know our turn is coming and we are ready for that," Taylor
said. "We know how to be competitive in the conference and now we
have more experience."
A 3-pointer by Afflalo, two free throws by Thompson and a basket
by Fey gave the Bruins a 48-33 lead with 15:20 remaining.
It was 54-40 when the Ducks got a basket from Jordan Kent and
two fast-break dunks by Oguchi to draw within eight points with 8½
minutes left. But that was as close at Oregon would get.
Thompson and Shipp scored four points each during an 8-3 run
that made it 62-49 with 5:55 to play, and Farmar made six free
throws in the final two minutes to keep the Bruins safely ahead.
Fey scored seven points and Shipp added six during a 13-6 run
that gave UCLA a 24-18 lead before the Ducks used a basket by Malik
Hairston and 3-pointers by Taylor and Brooks to tie the game
With Fey and Farmar scoring four points each, the Bruins went on
a 12-2 run to finish the first half for a 38-28 lead. The Ducks
weren't closer than eight points after that.
UCLA and Oregon State split their two games this season. The
Bruins used a game-finishing 10-0 run to beat the Beavers 69-61
Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion, and OSU won the first game 85-80