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BRUINS TAKE PART IN BENCH-CLEARING BALL.

Byline: BRIAN DOHN Staff Writer

Less than two minutes remained and coach Ben Howland was still standing in front of UCLA's bench, knees slightly bent, feet shuffling along and his arms waving as he implored his team to get back on defense.

That Howland was pleading to three walk-ons and two little-used reserves to dig in despite the Bruins' 43-point lead added to the spectacle.

UCLA embarrassed Oregon State so badly, the final 25 minutes were nothing more than a glorified scrimmage for the Bruins' bit players.

No. 5 UCLA's 82-35 thrashing of the Beavers was its most lopsided in an extremely one-sided series, kept the Bruins atop the Pacific-10 Conference, and gave the starters plenty of rest heading into Wednesday's showdown against USC.

``We were up by a lot, and (Howland) was still standing,'' UCLA guard Darren Collison said. ``That shows a lot. That's why we're a good team, because of him. He was trying to tell (walk-on) Matt (Lee), after a play late, he was telling him to jump stop. That shows how he keeps striving for perfection.''

The Bruins (20-2, 9-2 Pac-10) lead USC (18-6, 8-3) by a game in the conference standings, which puts a different slant on the upcoming rivalry rematch. The Bruins won the first meeting at Galen Center.

``In the past, (USC) was kind of at the bottom of the Pac-10, but it's going to be a big game,'' Bruins wing Josh Shipp said. ``We always want to beat them. They don't like us and we don't like them, so it doesn't matter if they're in first or last. It's the same mind-set. It doesn't change anything. We want to kill them like they want to kill us.''

As for Oregon State, the Beavers' defensive effort was so deplorable the Bruins looked like they were playing in the Say No (to defense) summer league. UCLA shot 57.6percent from the field, but the Bruins' offensive onslaught was even more punishing than numbers indicate.

The starters began filing to the bench after Arron Afflalo's 3-pointer gave the Bruins a 61-20 lead with 14:57 to play. At that point, the Bruins were 27 of 37 (73 percent) from the field, scoring on dunks, lay-ups, wide- open jumpers, in transition and every other way imaginable.

The Bruins missed nine of 30 first-half shots, but got the offensive rebound on four of those misses.

``(Baskets) came kind of easy,'' Shipp said. ``I think we focused on pushing a lot harder. We got a lot of easy dunks, and that always gets the crowd into it, so it was fun.''

It was the fewest points UCLA has allowed since a 50-30 victory at Washington State last season, and the Bruins' biggest margin of victory since beating Morgan State 100-39 on Dec. 1, 1999.

The Beavers (9-15, 1-10) shot 31.4 percent from the field and scored their fewest points since an 18-16 win at Stanford on Jan.28, 1980.

``(The Bruins) are relentless in their mission to play their best on every possession,'' Oregon State coach Jay John said. ``They could really pour it on.''

Afflalo scored 16 points, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 14 and Collison had 10 assists and eightpoints for the Bruins, but it was the play of their bench that had the starters whoopin' it up much of the second half.

Seven Bruins had season-highs in minutes, led by rarely used wing Nikola Dragovic. He had eight points and six rebounds in 12 minutes (four more than his season total) in his first action since Jan. 4 at Oregon State.

Walk-on DeAndre Robinson scored his first career points and walk-ons Lee and Joey Ellis played for the first time this season.

Freshmen Russell Westbrook (11 points), James Keefe and walk-on Mustafa Abdul-Hamid all logged career-highs in minutes, and sophomore Ryan Wright (13 minutes) matched a season high.

Meanwhile, Afflalo (20 minutes), Collison (24) and Josh Shipp (21) had season lows in minutes, and no starter played more than Collison.

``It was good to see the other guys out there,'' Afflalo said. ``It's a rarity for them. I'm going to have my moments the rest of the year. It's the whole family thing about it. It makes them feel a part of it, makes them practice harder to get us better.''

The ninth-place Beavers were so bad that not even a UCLA lineup of Keefe, Dragovic, Michael Roll, Wright and Alfred Aboya served as a break. Even with that quintet on the court, the Bruins added to an already hefty cushion on Dragovic's 3-pointer to make it 71-29 with 7:16 to play.

``It's important for our guys who come off the bench to get as much playing time as possible,'' Howland said. ``We need them. It was good to James Keefe and Ryan Wright significant minutes. It was nice to get Nikola in there. I thought they all did a nice job of playing hard.''

brian.dohn@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3607

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2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) UCLA's Michael Roll drives to the hoop against Oregon State's Jack McGillis during Saturday's game.

(2) UCLA players, from left, Arron Afflalo, Michael Westbrook, James Keefe, Darren Collison and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute celebrate the Bruins' victory over Oregon State on Saturday.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 4, 2007
Words:883
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