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UCLA NOTEBOOK : SMALL CONSOLATION: NOT WORST ROUT EVER.

Byline: Jon Wilner Daily News Staff Writer

The feeling may not last long. But for one night, at least, the Bruins are glad they lost by a school-record 48 points to Stanford last season.

That defeat became their life preserver in the aftermath of Thursday night's 109-68 loss to North Carolina - the second-worst loss in school history.

``It's a similar situation to the Stanford loss as far as the next game having to pick up the slack,'' senior forward J.R. Henderson said.

Forty-eight hours after the Massacre at Maples, UCLA defeated California in a game that helped catapult the Bruins toward the Pacific-10 Conference title. How will they respond this time, with a roster that includes two seniors and six freshmen?

The seniors, Henderson and Toby Bailey, must provide the leadership that Cameron Dollar and Charles O'Bannon showed last year.

``Having all the freshmen makes it more difficult,'' Henderson said. ``We don't know how they'll react. Will they hang their heads or give up? Me and Toby have to be the main guys who help them. We've got to lead them in the right direction and show them we can bounce back.''

It's unfamiliar territory for the quiet Henderson and subtle Bailey. They have experienced the gamut in their three seasons in Westwood, from an NCAA title to Jim Harrick's dismissal as coach. But always, they were the followers. Can they lead? Will they lead?

``We can't wait for Jelani (McCoy) and Kris (Johnson),'' Henderson said. ``There's no guaranteed date when they'll come back. We've just got to play. We can't make excuses.''

Bruised and battered: Bailey felt the pain of having to play center against North Carolina's huge lineup. He has a bruised left shoulder and a bruised lower back.

Asked if he will play in the second round, Bailey said: ``They'll decide (today).''

First-game jitters: Five freshmen played 110 minutes for the Bruins. Point guard Baron Davis was the most impressive, with a team-high 13 points and five assists, although he also had four turnovers and was in foul trouble.

Guard Billy Knight added nine points, most coming long after the game had been decided, and guard Earl Watson had five points. ``He had some moments,'' coach Steve Lavin said.

Seeing the town: The Bruins have managed to mix basketball and academics with a taste of the local culture.

They left Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon and arrived in Anchorage before midnight. On the way to the hotel, they invaded a local McDonald's, which welcomed them even though it was past closing.

Wednesday, they toured a museum and learned survival skills, which should help on their next trip to Hollywood. They also visited the children's ward of the Alaska Native Hospital. The busy day ended with a Thanksgiving meal at the hotel.

Informal wear: In uncharacteristic fashion, Lavin was underdressed for the Shootout luncheon on Wednesday. He arrived wearing sweat clothes, then apologized during his turn at the podium.

``Sorry I look like a slob,'' he said. ``Normally, I'm clean-shaven and dressed for the occasion.''

The neophytes: Young coaches dominate this tournament. Six of the eight are in their first or second year on the job. The rookies are North Carolina's Bill Guthridge, Seton Hall's Tommy Amaker and Southwestern Louisiana's Jessie Evans, the former Arizona assistant.

The ``veterans'' are Lavin, Massachusetts' James Flint and Alabama Birmingham's Murry Bartow.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: UCLA freshman Baron Davis, right, guarding North Carolina's Ed Cota, received a baptism of fire.

Associated Press
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 28, 1997
Words:582
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