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January 3, 2009
UCLA topples Oregon State in Corvallis
CORVALLIS, Ore.(AP) While a victory over rebuilding Oregon State might not be the best barometer, senior point guard Darren Collison is still encouraged about where the UCLA Bruins stand this season.
"I think we have a lot more chemistry that we've had in the last three or four years," Collison said. "We have a lot better shooters, we've got way better passers than last year. This team seems to be clicking."
The No. 12 Bruins opened Pacific-10 Conference play Friday night with a 69-46 victory over Oregon State. Collison had 16 points, as did Michael Roll.
Drew Gordon added 11 points for the Bruins (11-2, 1-0), the Pac-10's defending regular-season champions who have won seven straight games.
Calvin Haynes had 16 points for Oregon State (5-6, 0-1), which went winless in the conference last season.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Beavers under first-year coach Craig Robinson, the brother-in-law of President-elect Barack Obama.
"You guys are probably getting tired of me saying this, but this is a learning process," Robinson said.
The Bruins, who went 16-2 in the conference last season, are seeking their fourth straight regular-season league title.
The Beavers, meanwhile, are struggling to shake off last season when they became the first Pac-10 team to finish the regular season without a victory since the league expanded in 1978.
Oregon State has not won a conference game since defeating Washington on Feb. 22, 2007 in Corvallis.
The Beavers hired Robinson in the offseason, hoping to get the once-proud program back on track. Robinson, Michelle Obama's older brother, led Brown to a school-record 19 victories last season.
In the 1980s, Oregon State won the conference championship three times and shared it twice. A series of teams that featured such stars as Gary Payton, A.C. Green, Lester Conner and Steve Johnson went to the NCAA tournament eight times during the decade.
Lately, it's been UCLA's turn, with four straight trips to the NCAA tournament and three consecutive Final Four appearances.
UCLA has won eight in a row over Oregon State and the past four in Corvallis.
The Bruins ruled Friday night from the start, leading by 21 points in the first half.
Jrue Holiday's 3-pointer gave the Bruins an 18-4 lead. It was one of six 3-pointers that helped put UCLA up 37-16 at the break.
The Beavers scored the first six points of the second half to come within 15 points, but it was as close as they would come. Collison's deep 3-pointer extended UCLA's lead to 57-32.
Lathen Wallace capped a late 7-0 run for Oregon State with a 3-pointer that made it 65-46. But the Beavers were hurt by 20 turnovers. They also allowed the Bruins 12 offensive rebounds.
"Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. That was the big thing," Haynes said. "I can't say that it was that they jumped on us early. We didn't do what we needed to do."
Holiday, a freshman guard, said the Bruins were able to pick apart the weaknesses in Oregon State's zone defense.
"We're playing OK. We have a lot to improve on," he said. "It's better than I expected this early in the season."
The Bruins were coming off a 78-55 victory over Louisiana Tech on Sunday. Josh Shipp, who had missed the previous two games with a sprained thumb, scored 16 points. He had eight points against the Beavers.
Oregon State was coming off a 59-50 victory over Seattle on Monday.
The Beavers have lost 23 straight against ranked opponents, dating back to a 75-65 victory over then-No. 24 Arizona on Jan. 12, 2006.