The Soviet men's gymnastics team overcame a slow start today to cruise through the final three events, handily beating a ragged U.S. team in the first dual meet between the nations since 1983.

The Soviets won the team competition, 294.6 to 291.75.

Yuri Balabanov and Valentin Mogilny tied for first all-around with scores of 59.00 of a possible 60, and Alexsei Tikhonkin finished third. The Soviets won all six events, and swept five of the first six places in the all-around competition.

Two-time world champion Yuri Korolev was fourth and teammate Alexsandr Tumilovich was fifth in the all-around. Scott Johnson was the United States' top finisher at sixth with 58.35 points.

The Soviets brought their entire world championship team to the McDonald's Challenge dual meet at the Worcester Centrum. The inexperienced U.S. squad -- roughly the same team that finished ninth at December's World Championships -- was visibly tired by the end of the six-event meet.

As was the case Saturday when the Soviet women's team beat their relatively inexperienced counterparts from the United States, the men's team stayed close for the first two events. But the Americans waited in vain for Soviet mistakes.

"I didn't perform like I wanted to," said 1984 Olympian Tim Daggett, who finished 10th in the all-around competition with a score of 58. His best event was the pommel where he posted a 9.95, one of the highest scores of the afternoon.

"I have had a bad ankle and it still bothers me," Daggett said. "I had some problems with it today, but that is no excuse for my performance. I just made some stupid mistakes that I don't generally make."

The United States' showing, despite Daggett's injury and lingering foot problems for veteran Phil Cahoy, was better than at the 1985 World Championships when the Soviets overwhelmed all other teams, including a U.S. squad rebuilt after the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

"Today they saw we're a much better team than they thought we were last fall," said Johnson. He and Daggett are the only members of the 1984 Olympic gold-medal team still competing.

"And we hope the upswing continues," U.S. Coach Abie Grossfeld said. "I wasn't surprised at them [Soviets]. We know how good they are."

The Soviets were good enough, in fact, to have flown nearly all day Thursday, going halfway around the world, and still showed no effects of jet lag.

"The team was in very good form today," said Soviet Coach Leonid Arkaev.

But even he was surprised to learn his gymnasts had overcome an additional obstacle -- losing an hour's sleep. It wasn't until the post-meet news conference that Arkaev learned that he and his team had lost an hour overnight because of the conversion from standard time to daylight saving time Saturday night.