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Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Ball State upends UCLA

November 21, 2001


— Ball State waited a whole 24 hours to surpass the greatest win in the history of its basketball program.

The Cardinals beat No. 3 UCLA 91-73 in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational on Tuesday night, just one day after knocking off No. 4 Kansas in the opening round.

"We didn't have to do anything to keep the kids grounded last night and I really don't think tonight will be any different," second-year Ball State coach Tim Buckley said. "These are good level-headed kids with good character and they like each other and like to play basketball."

Unlike the game against the Jayhawks, which Ball State won 93-91 on a drive by Patrick Jackson with less than a second to play, there was little doubt about the outcome against the Bruins over the final 15 minutes.

Ball State (2-0) will get a chance for a third victory over a top-five team in as many days in today's championship game against top-ranked Duke, which beat South Carolina 81-56 in the semifinals.

"We have tremendous respect for Duke and no question they are the No. 1 team in the country," Buckley said. "We're just going to play. We just got done with numbers three and four and found out a lot about ourselves. We just have to go out and get better."

Kansas had been the highest ranked opponent Ball State had beaten. Now the Bruins (1-1) have that mantle.

The Cardinals had a very different reaction to the two wins, piling on top of each other in on-court celebration after the Kansas game and just walking off the court with arms raised after beating UCLA.

"Coach always tells us there's no level of basketball, just levels of players," Jackson said. "We have played against this level of players in the summer. Basketball is basketball."

The Bruins became the sixth member of the preseason Top 25 to lose a game this season, joining Maryland, Kentucky, Kansas, Saint Joseph's and Florida.

Jackson, an extremely quick guard, had 23 points for the Cardinals, while Theron Smith, the Mid-American Conference freshman of the year last season when he led Ball State in scoring and rebounding, had 22.

Jason Kapono had 26 points for the Bruins, who committed 22 turnovers, many unforced, and struggled defensively.

"It was pretty clear Ball State beat us to the punch and outplayed us in every phase of the game," UCLA coach Steve Lavin said. "They deserve credit for knocking off two top five teams. Defensively they're just a good basketball team."

Chris Williams, who hit a huge 3-pointer late in the Kansas victory, hit a 3 with 16:09 to play against UCLA that started a 10-2 run and gave the Cardinals 67-49 lead.

Robert Owens capped the run with 13:21 to play when he dunked a no-look pass from Zach Willingham.

UCLA's trouble with the ball showed twice as the Bruins tried to find a way back into the game.

When they were within 76-63 with 7:49 to play, Billy Knight was called for a double dribble alone in the corner near the UCLA basket after getting the rebound of a missed 3-pointer by Ball State.

When it was 83-68, UCLA had a basket disallowed when Matt Barnes was called for a three-second violation.

"We need to clean up our taking care of the basketball," Lavin said. "We had 22 turnovers they had three. No matter what we tried defensively they went through is like a hot knife through butter. We know we have a long way to go on the defensive end of the floor."

UCLA opened the tournament, which is sponsored by EA Sports, with a 71-60 victory over Houston.

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