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February 21, 2008
A solid defensive effort last time out helped keep UCLA atop the Pac-10 standings.
The sixth-ranked Bruins could be in for another strong performance Thursday when they host Oregon State, which hasn't won a conference game in almost a year.
UCLA (22-3, 10-2) rebounded from its second conference loss with a 56-46 win at rival Southern California on Sunday. It came one week after the Bruins were upset 71-61 at Washington on Feb. 10.
The victory also kept UCLA one-half game ahead of No. 9 Stanford in the conference standings. The Cardinal host California on Sunday.
"I'd be lying if I said we didn't look at the standings," said 6-foot-10 UCLA freshman Kevin Love, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds Sunday for his 15th double-double.
The Bruins overcame their own offensive struggles by forcing 22 USC turnovers and holding Trojans star O.J. Mayo to a season-low four points. Mayo also committed a season-high 10 turnovers.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 10 points and 10 rebounds in his first game since missing two with a sprained left ankle. Guard Russell Westbrook had only seven points, but helped contain Mayo most of the game.
"Probably a lot of what they did didn't show up on the stat sheet," said UCLA preseason All-American Darren Collison, who had 14 points. "We played harder. Guys took it personal."
The Bruins needed to play harder in other areas to make up for shooting 33.9 percent, one game after a 34.4-percent effort from the field versus Washington. UCLA was also held to its fewest points of the season.
Even if they struggle on the offensive end Thursday, the Bruins - allowing 58.0 points per game - should be able to handle Oregon State (6-19, 0-13), which looks to avoid extending its school-record losing streak to 16 games.
Collison had a career-high 33 points on 9-for-12 shooting and went 13-for-13 from the free-throw line in UCLA's 85-62 win at Oregon State on Jan. 26.
Love, who hails from Lake Oswego, Ore., about 70 miles north of the Beavers' campus in Corvallis, had 16 points and a career-high 21 rebounds in that contest.
"They have two special guys, they have a great coach," Oregon State interim coach Kevin Mouton said of the Bruins. "So it will be interesting to see where they end up."
UCLA will try for its seventh consecutive victory over Oregon State and fifth in a row over the Beavers at Pauley Pavilion.
Oregon State fell 97-59 at home to Washington on Saturday for its most lopsided conference loss this season. The Beavers have dropped 15 straight Pac-10 games since a 73-65 win over Washington last Feb. 22.
Oregon State has also lost its last 14 league road games.
On Saturday, freshman Lathen Wallace had 16 points as the conference's worst shooting team shot 32.2 percent - well below its 38.1 season percentage.
Wallace, who averages just 6.0 points per contest, had a career-high 18 in Oregon State's loss to UCLA last month.