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Updated: Thursday, March 13, 2003 8:07 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL PREVIEW
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UCLA (9-18) vs No. 1 Arizona (25-2)
UCLA BRUINS
UCLA Bruins
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ARIZONA WILDCATS
Arizona Wildcats
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LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Steve Lavin is virtually certain of coaching his last game for UCLA on Thursday afternoon when his team faces top-ranked Arizona in a Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinal.

Lavin owns a 146-77 record in his seven seasons as the coach of UCLA (9-18), which he led to five appearances in the "Sweet 16" in his first six seasons. But his seventh season quickly turned into a disaster as the Bruins suffered their most home losses ever at Pauley Pavilion with 10.

UCLA barely squeezed into the Pac-10 Tournament as the eighth seed after winning its final two games of the regular season against Washington State and Washington. Dijon Thompson scored 26 points and Jason Kapono and Ray Young each added 20 as the Bruins posted an 83-72 victory over Washington on Saturday, giving them the final spot.

Unless UCLA wins three games and captures the tournament, its streak of 14 straight NCAA Tournament berths will come to an end.

Arizona (25-2) has won 10 straight games and captured the Pac-10 tournament a year ago with wins over Arizona State, California and Southern California. The Wildcats have dominated the Bruins this season , winning the two meetings by a combined 71 points.

"Through the years, anytime it's Arizona-UCLA, it's a big game," Arizona coach Lute Olson said. "From our players' standpoint, they always get fired up to play UCLA. I don't think it makes any difference what the results of the two games this year have been. They know how talented UCLA is, and UCLA has been playing well lately."

Leading scorer Jason Gardner is one of four Wildcats to average double figures in scoring. Backcourt mate Salim Stoudamire is the team's top 3-point shooter at 46 percent and center Channing Frye has three double-doubles in his last six games.

The winner will face Oregon or Arizona State in Friday's semifinals.


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