UCLA, putting its offcourt problems aside for an afternoon, overwhelmed Notre Dame today, 75-49, the worst home loss in Digger Phelps' 11 years as coach and the school's worst defeat in the 14-year-old Athletic and Convocation Center.
Forced to listen to thousands of jangling car keys -- a reference to the NCAA probation the school reportedly is about to be placed on -- and cheers of "We Want a Car," from the Notre Dame students, the Bruins dominated the Irish in the final 20 minutes after struggling to a 26-23 lead at halftime.
First-year Coach Larry Farmer, upset after his team's record dropped to 1-2 Thursday after a loss to Rutgers, shook up his lineup today. He benched junior guard Rod Foster, an all-America last year, and started Michael Holton in his place. He also moved Darren Daye from his sixth-man role to the end of the bench, playing freshman Niguel Miguel in his place.
"I made the moves for defensive purposes," said Farmer. "I just thought these guys had done a better job in practice. Rod's strength is his shooting, Michael's is his defense and we needed a good defensive player on (John) Paxson."
Paxson, the only truly established player on this Notre Dame team, tried his best to make a game of it. He finished with 19 points, but that wasn't nearly enough as the Bruins outrebounded the Irish, 39-18.
The Bruins got superb performances from Michael Sanders, who had 24 points, including 12 of 12 from the foul line, and from Holton, who shot seven for nine from the floor in addition to doing a creditable defensive job on Paxson.
Phelps -- whose technical foul with 3:26 left in the first half and the Irish leading, 21-20, set up a four-point play that put UCLA up for good -- was philosophical about the rout.
"This is what happens with a young team," he said. "We're just going to have to keep working to get better . . . I guess this will be the biggest press conference I'm at this year."