Missed bus can't derail Wildcats

By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 19, 1996

Adam F. Jarrold
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA forward Ben Davis registers one of his two blocks at the expense of Trojan center David Crouse. Davis had a career-high 16 rebounds to go with 19 points as No. 13 Arizona won 86-72 to split with the Los Angeles schools. UA had a 40-28 rebound advantage over Southern Cal.


LOS ANGELES - Conventional wisdom said all Arizona had to do to defeat Southern Cal Saturday was simply show up.

Easier said than done.

Miles Simon and A.J. Bramlett both missed the team bus to the L.A. Sports Arena, but the No. 13 Wildcats didn't need them, as they extended USC's losing streak to five games with an 86-72 win in front of 3,121. The win gave the Wildcats (19-5, 8-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference) a split on their Los Angeles trip, following a 76-75 loss to UCLA.

Simon and Bramlett hitched rides from their hotel with Reggie Geary's father, Reginald, who was in the parking lot at the time. While they made it to the game on time, UA head coach Lute Olson benched Simon for the first half while Bramlett sat out the whole contest.

"They left me, I guess I was slow," Simon said, who had no points and two assists in 13 minutes.

"It was just a matter of being a few minutes late for the bus, but we have rules," Olson said.

Luckily, Ben Davis was on the bus. Davis followed up a 25-point, 12-rebound performance against the Bruins with 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds Saturday. He also blocked two shots and was the reason Arizona outrebounded USC 40-28.

With USC (11-14, 4-9) center Avondre Jones still suspended for missing the team plane to the Bay Area last weekend, Davis had free reign inside. Aided by Corey Williams and Joe McLean, Davis shut down forward Jaha Wilson (four points and six rebounds) and center David Crouse (four points and two rebounds). Wilson was third in the conference with 8.3 rebounds a game.

"Ben Davis continues to do unbelievable things in every game," Olson said. "You see the scoring and rebounds, but defensively he's as good as we've had since Pete Williams (1981-85)."

"We were concerned with their (USC's) inside game, but it was obvious early that they couldn't get it inside," he said.

For Davis, who is starting to move alongside Cal's Sharif Abdur-Rahim in the race for conference player of the year honors, there was no doubt in his mind the team would respond after the heartbreaking loss to the Bruins.

"I knew they would (be ready to play), they've been doing it all year," Davis said. "Teams don't change just because of a loss."

Arizona certainly didn't, as they continued their trend of getting balanced scoring. With Michael Dickerson (13 points, seven rebounds and a career-high six assists) inserted into the starting lineup for Simon, all UA starters scored in double figures.

"We had to be mature about it," Geary said about dealing with the loss that will probably prevent them from contending for the Pac-10 title. "We all understood what should have happened (against UCLA). Any team that didn't have pride would have been in the tank."

The game started with both teams trying to find a rhythm. Even the public address announcer started slowly, announcing during player introductions that suspended center Joseph Blair was Arizona's starting point guard.

The Wildcats moved ahead for good with 11 minutes to play when Joe McLean hit consecutive 3-pointers to give UA a 25-22 lead. Those shots started a 20-5 Arizona run to give the Wildcats a 39-27 halftime lead.

The second half was simply a matter of the Trojans not being able to sustain enough offensive consistency to mount a comeback. Senior guard Brandon Martin kept USC close with 20 second-half points, but they could get no closer than eight points (78-70) the rest of the way. The Trojans shot 44.1 percent from the field, only 28 percent from the 3-point line, and committed 14 turnovers as they lost their fifth-straight game.

"We've got to be smarter," said USC interim head coach Henry Bibby, who is 0-4 since taking over for Charlie Parker Feb.7. "We were down by ten with the ball and we'd take an ill-advised shot or throw the ball away."

Stais Boseman finished with 22 points for USC. Geary had 18 points, McLean added 16, and Williams had 12.