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Updated: Sunday, January 9, 2005 2:45 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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UCLA 95, (14) Washington 86

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Coach Ben Howland's rebuilding project at UCLA is well ahead of schedule.

Senior Dijon Thompson scored a career-high 29 points and Brian Morrison added all of his 19 in the second half as UCLA rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit for a 95-86 Pac-10 Conference victory over No. 14 Washington.

After a 10-19 campaign in 2002-03, UCLA hired Howland, who guided the Bruins to an 11-17 record last season.

He apparently has turned things around in his second season as UCLA (9-3, 3-1 Pac-10) has won three in a row, including its first win over a ranked foe this season.

It was Howland's biggest win at UCLA since a 64-58 triumph over Michigan State last season, when the school named its homecourt after legendary coach John Wooden.

"This is a great win," Howland said. "But Wooden is always special to me so that Michigan State win will always be special to me."

Washington (13-2, 3-1), which had won nine straight games, appeared to be in position for its first victory in Pauley Pavilion since 1987 when Tre Simmons' basket opened a 65-51 lead with 14:25 left.

But Thompson and Morrison sparked the comeback with eight consecutive points. Josh Shipp followed with a 3-pointer to make it 65-62 with just under 12 minutes to go.

"Dijon and Brian are two seniors who really gave us a lot of firepower in the second half," Howland said. "Dijon is playing very, very good for us right now. He's playing his best basketball."

"Dijon Thompson played like a senior and like a future pro," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "He took the ball and made some big shots and helped them win."

Thompson drew the Bruins even, 72-72, on a 3-pointer with 8:43 remaining. After a jumper by Brandon Roy, Morrison gave UCLA its first lead since early in the first half, 75-74, with a 3-pointer 40 seconds later.

"We stepped it up," Thompson said. "Everyone changed the game around. We refuse to lose here at home."

The game remained close until Morrison put the Bruins ahead for good, 87-85, with a bucket at the 2:37 mark. The Huskies did not make a basket down the stretch and Thompson and Morrison added six points to seal the victory.

Nate Robinson, who had averaged just 9.7 points in his last six games, broke out of his scoring slump with 21 points for Washington, which has lost 19 consecutive road games to UCLA.

"It seems like they wanted it a little more than we did," Robinson said. "They played a little harder and usually that's the team that wins."

The Huskies were virtually unstoppable early, making 12 of their first 15 shots to open a 30-9 lead with 9 1/2 minutes to go in the first half. Washington shot 68 percent (21-of-31) in the first 20 minutes to take a 52-42 lead at the break.

"We have no one to blame but ourselves in this one," Romar said. "We did what we wanted to in the first half, but because of fatigue or foul trouble we let up."

Romar, a former assistant at UCLA, dropped to 1-5 lifetime against the Bruins.

"This is coach's alma mater, so this game was big," said Simmons, who scored 19 points. "We let him down tonight."


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