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UCLA reeling after worst loss

January 10, 1997

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) _ In the final surreal moments of what became the worst loss in UCLA’s history, first-year coach Steve Lavin couldn’t help cracking a sad smile.

Having Brevin Knight, Stanford’s star guard, score 25 points in 24 minutes was one thing. Watching Stanford reserves Mark Seaton and Pete Van Elswyk throw down two-handed slams and seldom-used Kamba Tshionyi pop a 3-pointer during the closing minutes of UCLA’s 109-61 loss to Stanford Thursday night just drove home the enormity of the defeat.

``Guys who weren’t even in our scouting report were coming in and busting threes and looking like All-Americans,″ Lavin said. ``It was one of those nights where they could’ve drop-kicked it from the half-court line and it would’ve gone in.″

The 21st-ranked Cardinal made 15 3-pointers, breaking the school record of 14 against Alaska-Anchorage Dec. 18, and opened a shocking 31-point halftime lead against UCLA (7-4, 2-1 Pac-10).

``I’ve been on the other end where I’ve won big, but I’ve never lost this big,″ said UCLA’s Charles O’Bannon, a sophomore when the Bruins won their record 11th NCAA championship two years ago.

It was Stanford’s stunning beginning that paved the way for UCLA’s 48-point loss, which surpassed the Bruins’ worst previous defeat by 10 points. UCLA lost by 38 points to Arizona in 1989.

Shooting over UCLA’s zone, Knight hit three 3-pointers and Rich Jackson drained another and the Bruins trailed 17-1 five minutes into the game. Another Knight 3-pointer made it 22-5 a minute and a half later.

A mild run by the Bruins cut it to 24-12 before Stanford took off again, with Arthur Lee nailing consecutive 3-pointers and Ryan Mendez hitting another. By halftime, Knight had 20 points and Stanford led 57-26.

``They were shooting at a rim that was as big as my arms,″ O’Bannon said. ``Everything they threw up went in. There was nothing at all we could do about it. It was unbelievable. I’m not embarrassed. They played a perfect game.″

Even Stanford (9-2, 2-1) had a hard time fathoming the scope of its victory.

``I had confidence we could win because we’re a good team and it’s our home court,″ Knight said. ``But if you would have told me we would have won by 48 points, I would have said, `Never.′ ″

UCLA, which entered the game leading the nation in field goal shooting at 54.9 percent, hit only 33.3 percent from the field in the first half and finished at 36.7 percent.

The loss was only the Bruins fifth in their last 39 conference games.

``We ran into a Stanford team that was a buzzsaw,″ said Lavin, who took this season after Jim Harrick was fired. ``They beat us to the punch in all areas _ down the floor, on rebounds, shooting _ the whole game. They played at what I call a magic level.″

As for UCLA, Lavin said, ``It was a bad dream that kept getting worse.″

And the loss will stick with him for some time.

``Unfortunately, the asterisk will be by my name,″ Lavin said.

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