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January 26, 2008

UCLA travels to play hapless OSU

UCLA freshman Kevin Love dealt with strife during the first leg of his return to his home state. That's nothing compared to the turmoil Oregon State and interim coach Kevin Mouton are going through.

Love hopes to lead the eighth-ranked Bruins to a two-game sweep in Oregon on Saturday, while the Beavers look to avoid their first 10-game losing streak in nearly 90 years.

Love, a Lake Oswego, Ore., native, had a career night while playing before a hostile crowd at Oregon on Thursday night, scoring 26 points and grabbing a season-high 18 rebounds while leading the Bruins (17-2, 5-1 Pac-10) to an 80-75 win.

"What more can you ask for? He's not an average freshman," UCLA's Darren Collison said. "He plays like a senior. He gutted it out."

The Beavers (6-13, 0-7), who haven't lost 10 straight in one season since 1920-21, likely will have things on their minds other than trying to shut down Love. Head coach Jay John was fired on Monday and replaced on an interim basis by Mouton, a former assistant.

Oregon State had gone just 26-68 in the Pac-10 under John, who was in his sixth season. The Beavers have had just one winning season since 1989-90.

"I always like to look at the total body of work," Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis said. "And I really just didn't see where it was going."

In his first day on the job, Mouton dismissed center C.J. Giles, who had started six games since becoming eligible after transferring from Kansas. Mouton also did not start Marcel Jones, the team's lone senior and second-leading scorer, against Southern California on Thursday.

Jones was 1-of-11 from the field off the bench and scored just five points in the 68-44 loss to the Trojans. The Beavers shot a season-worst 27.7 percent from the field en route to a season low in points, playing the game before a season-high announced crowd of 5,063 - still less than half capacity at Gill Coliseum.

"We're going to move on, because we can't sit here and do the whole 'Woe is me'," Mouton said. "UCLA will be here Saturday."

Things have been going significantly better for the Bruins. They bounced back from last Saturday's 72-63 loss to USC with the win at Oregon, and have won 10 of 11 overall. They've also won all four of their true road games this season and all seven of their games away from Pauley Pavilion.

Oregon's fans constantly pestered Love for leaving his home state to attend UCLA, including a sign calling him a sellout. But he responded by setting a UCLA rookie record for rebounds as the Bruins erased a seven-point second half deficit.

Love has posted three straight double-doubles coming into this contest, averaging 23.7 points and 14.7 rebounds. He's in the top 10 in the Pac-10 in both categories, ranking second with 10.7 rebounds per game.

Against the Ducks, Collison had 22 points and Russell Westbrook added 15 as the Bruins were playing without regulars Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Lorenzo Mata-Real, both of whom suffered concussions against USC. Their statuses for Saturday's game are unknown.

UCLA has won five straight against Oregon State, including an 82-35 blowout in their most recent meeting last February in Los Angeles.



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