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UCLA BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Bruins are halfway there.

Byline: Brian Dohn brian.dohn@dailynews.com Staff Writer

UCLA beat Washington two days ago to get back into the Pacific-10 Conference race, but less than 30 minutes after the victory, Bruins coach Ben Howland quickly put it in perspective.

"I said this was a gut-check week for us," Howland said. "We responded to the first half of that gut check. We've got another half to go."

That other half comes today, when the 20th-ranked Bruins host slumping Washington State at Pauley Pavilion.

"We have to win," Howland said Friday. "We have to have that attitude, anyway, that we have to win."

Howland is always focused when discussing the next game, but he said there is even more urgency than usual because of the circumstances.

The Bruins are a half-game behind first-place Washington in the standings, but the regular season is closing fast. The Bruins (20-6, 9-4 Pac-10) have five games left, and the Feb. 28 meeting at California marks the only game left against an opponent that is above .500 in the Pac-10. UCLA's other four upcoming opponents occupy the bottom four spots in the standings.

"We're at home," Howland said. "You have to take advantage of being at home. The tough part is Washington State has played well here historically. ... We've been lucky to win here a couple of times."

Still, WSU (13-13, 5-9) is 1-50 at UCLA, with the win coming in 2005, Howland's first season with the Bruins.

But the Cougars have lost their past four visits to Pauley by a combined 13 points, and play a methodical style, walking the ball up the court and showing extreme patience on each possession.

"We're going to have to have a monumental effort because we're going to be on defense a lot," Howland said. "They want to wear you down by making you play defense. It's like a ball-control offense in football. It starts benefiting them as the game wears on."

Aboya ready

Howland said senior center Alfred Aboya "should be fine" to play against the Cougars despite needing an IV after the Washington win because he lost so much fluid.

Aboya played an energetic 28 minutes despite being bedridden earlier in the week because of illness. He finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

"It's absolutely unbelievable how tough he is," Howland said. "His toughness and his tenacity and his love for his team and this program and his school is just incredible."

Anderson's nightmare

Freshman Jerime Anderson, who backs up starting point guard Darren Collison, is looking to bounce back from a horrific seven minutes against the Huskies. Anderson turned the ball over five times, missed his only shot from the field and committed two fouls.

"He got a little sped up and rattled," Howland said. "He'll learn from his mistakes. We'll have him watch some film and see what he did. I think he'll be fine."

Shipp shape

Bruins senior wing Josh Shipp is averaging 18 points and making 60.6 percent (20of33) of his shots, including 72.7 percent (8 of 11) from 3-point range.

And he is coming off one of the best games in his career, a 20-point performance in which he did not turn the ball over.

"I'm going to tell him that when I see him," Howland said. "It's definitely one of his best games, because of the scope of the game and the team's a nationally ranked opponent and we're coming off two losses on the road last week, and we put a lot of energy into preparing for it."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 21, 2009
Words:591
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