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Final Four Memories

1998 NCAA Men's Tournament

  Edney, Bruins Oust Oklahoma State

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 2, 1995

Tyus Edney was everywhere. He had to be double-teamed and he created havoc anyway. He led his team in scoring, throwing in breathtaking shots time and time again. Yes, Oklahoma State's 7-foot center Bryant Reeves was good today, but he was little match for Edney, a 5-foot-10 whirling dervish whose national acclaim is growing larger than he ever did.

With UCLA's first trip to the NCAA tournament championship game since 1980 in the balance, Edney scored a team-high 21 points, had five assists and dictated the tempo to lead the Bruins to a 74-61 victory over the Cowboys in front of 38,540 at the Kingdome.

"He's carried this team for four years," marveled Ed O'Bannon, the Bruins' all-American senior forward. "And he brought us where we are today. I say it all the time: I'm just happy to be playing with him."

The feeling likely was mutual, as O'Bannon scored 15 points, had eight rebounds and often defended Reeves. Meanwhile, Ed's younger brother, sophomore forward Charles O'Bannon, scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and had six rebounds.

"Huge! Charles O'Bannon was huge today!" UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said.

Harrick was crowing about more than just his players. The Bruins moved into Monday night's final against Arkansas, which advanced by defeating North Carolina in tonight's other national semifinal. It will be the first time UCLA has advanced that far since 1980, when it lost to Louisville, and it will be a chance for its first national title since 1975, when the legendary John Wooden won the last of his 10 titles in 12 years.

After today's game, Edney had his right wrist heavily wrapped because of a fall he took after a hard foul in the first half -- but he said he'll be fine for Monday night's final.

Harrick, in his seventh season, has had his down times trying to live up to Wooden's achievements. Last season, the Bruins suffered an ignominious first-round loss to Tulsa. Now, Harrick is having a definite up.

"It's a goal and dream and aspiration of every coach who comes on the floor to bring a team to this game," Harrick said. "It's a great, great feeling for me to go from where I was to where I am now."

Reeves finished with a game-high 25 points, but scored just seven in the second half as UCLA often went to a zone defense. Reeves, nicknamed "Big Country," seemed surrounded all game long. But he played all 40 minutes and generally made life miserable for UCLA's two centers -- senior George Zidek and freshman J.R. Henderson, who combined for only 44 minutes because of foul trouble.

In the end, though, Reeves couldn't do it alone. The Cowboys made just 32.1 percent of their second half shots. Shooting guard Randy Rutherford shot 4 of 13 (4 of 11 from three-point range) and finished with 15 points. And although the Cowboys outrebounded the Bruins 32-25, they committed 19 turnovers to UCLA's 10.

"The things we needed to do we did a good job on -- controlling the boards and playing strong defense," Oklahoma State Coach Eddie Sutton said. "But we did a poor job being so careless with the basketball."

In the first half, the Bruins took a 20-11 lead capped when Edney drove the lane, spun and, facing the opposite basket, threw a shot over his head and off the glass into the basket. That shot makes a trio of eye-openers for Edney, who scored the game-winning layup at the buzzer in UCLA's second-round victory over Missouri and who made a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer in a quarterfinal victory over Connecticut last week.

After Edney's shot fell through, he turned and high-stepped down the court as the UCLA bench players celebrated.

"It's just playground, I guess," Edney said. "When you grow up, you learn to do shots like that."

But the Cowboys slowed the pace and pounded the ball inside to Reeves, who brought his team back to a tie at 37 at halftime.

The Bruins moved to a 48-40 lead early in the second half. With the Bruins' fans cheering, the Cowboys went to Reeves. He made a layup and was fouled hard by Zidek, who left the game with his fourth foul as Reeves made the ensuing free throw to cut the Bruins' lead to 48-43.

The game was heating up. As Reeves went to the foul line, Ed O'Bannon and Oklahoma State forward Scott Pierce had words and the officials rushed in to separate the two.

The Cowboys took a 49-48 lead when Reeves made a foul line jumper against UCLA's zone defense. But UCLA scored five straight points, including a three-point play by Edney.

The Bruins remained in a zone defense, and while the Cowboys had trouble finding Reeves, they drew to within 56-54 when Rutherford made a three-pointer with 5:23 left.

UCLA's lead was just 60-58 after Reeves made a layup. Edney made two free throws, but Rutherford nailed a three to cut it to 62-61. Again, Edney drove the lane for a layup in traffic to make it 64-61 and Oklahoma State called time with 2:09 left.

UCLA stayed in a zone, and Rutherford shot an air ball from the right corner. On the other end, Bruins guard Cameron Dollar, who played prep ball at St. John's Prospect Hall in Frederick, Md., made two free throws after being fouled by Cowboys point guard Andre Owens.

Then, Dollar stole a pass from a double-teammed Reeves. Charles O'Bannon was fouled and made two free throws to put his team up 68-61. Oklahoma State's Terry Collins missed a three-pointer and Reeves missed a fallaway follow shot, and the Bruins made six straight free throws to clinch the victory.

When it was over, the praising of Edney, nicknamed "Little General," began.

"All you need to do is give him a little direction and let him go," Harrick said. "I'm so happy the country is able to see what a great player he is."

© Copyright 1995 The Washington Post Company

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