By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
They had taken such a commanding lead that a win was apparent several minutes before the final buzzer sounded.
They gathered together after the game to celebrate what may be a slight edge over its opponent in what is still a wide-open conference race.
A team composed of two high-scoring big men, a stocky center and a short, quick guard escaped with a huge win at McKale Center last night.
It wasn't Arizona.
No. 4 UCLA took the lead with a 9-0 run to close the first half and held on for the rest of the contest, pulling out a 71-61 victory over the No. 11 Arizona men's basketball team.
"Any time you win on the road it's big, especially when you win against a contender," UCLA coach Jim Harrick said. "This is a great accomplishment for our players."
The win was the Bruins' first in Tucson since 1992, an 89-87 victory that snapped the Wildcats' 71-game winning streak at home.
"It's a great feeling," said senior forward Ed O'Bannon, who led the Bruins with 21 points to go with 11 rebounds. "I remember being here when Don (MacLean), Tracy (Murray) and Derrick Martin came in and beat them (in '92). I wanted that feeling. At least, I was hoping to compete with them."
O'Bannon powered the Bruins on offense by slashing to the basket to receive passes while also crashing the boards on the offensive side. But he also helped on defense by limiting UA forward Ray Owes to 14 points and five re- mid
"I think there was a high level of intensity," O'Bannon said. "We tried to focus on that and stay aggressive no matter what the score was or what the flow of the game."
The much-anticipated battle of the point guards mostly lived up to that as UCLA senior Tyus Edney and Arizona's Damon Stoudamire tried to control the tempo of the game for their respective teams. However, Edney (19 points, nine rebounds, five assists) was able to enjoy a better game as the Bruins focused on stopping Stoudamire (15 points, four rebounds, six assists).
The Bruins alternated Edney and freshman guard Toby Bailey to take the defensive assignment on Stoudamire while sometimes sending their big men out to the perimeter on double-teams.
"We tried to keep the pressure on him at all times and deny the ball," Edney said. "We tried to stay in his face all night and force him to shoot longer shots."
Harrick said he didn't expect Stoudamire to again carry the Wildcats because it would have been difficult to raise his game after playing 44 minutes while leading the Wildcats to their 89-83 overtime win last Saturday against Stanford.
But Harrick credited Stoudamire with never letting up throughout last night's contest. And UCLA got a surprising performance from Bailey, who didn't realize the impact of the win until it was all over.
"It's a great victory. You can tell that by how happy the seniors were," Bailey said. "No matter what, we always kept our confidence."
Perhaps nobody on the Bruins' side realized the magnitude of winning on the Wildcats' home floor other than Harrick. It was the '92 season that his team last won the Pac-10 title Ä fittingly, the season it won at McKale.
Arizona has enjoyed such an edge at home that it has a 112-3 record at McKale since 1987-88.
"What did this win mean?" Harrick asked rhetorically. "Just ask the 112 teams that have come here and lost."
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