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Originally published Friday, January 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Overmatched UW falls hard to UCLA

Washington guard Ryan Appleby gave up 5 inches to the man UCLA decided to put on him to start Thursday night's game, 6-foot-8 forward Luc...

Seattle Times staff reporter

LOS ANGELES — Washington guard Ryan Appleby gave up 5 inches to the man UCLA decided to put on him to start Thursday night's game, 6-foot-8 forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

The unique strategy made the gap even wider between the Huskies and the Bruins, who waltzed to an easier-than-the-score-looks 69-55 win.

With Mbah a Moute blanketing him early, Appleby could get off only two shots and finished scoreless, the first time that has happened when injury wasn't a factor since the opening game of last season.

"They've never done that before," said Appleby, who had scored 13 points in a Huskies win over UCLA in Seattle last year, an outcome Bruins coach Ben Howland wanted to avoid this time.

And with their second-leading scorer shut down, the Huskies were left punchless against the No. 5 Bruins, who took a 41-23 halftime lead and never led by fewer than 11 in the second half.

"The best thing we did was guard Appleby," Howland said.

The Bruins also targeted UW junior forward Jon Brockman early, double-teaming him most of the first half and holding him to six points at the break.

"I think they feel [if] they can stop me and Jon from scoring, they will live with some other guys scoring," said Appleby. "Overall, we didn't shoot the ball well tonight and we didn't handle it well, and when other guys aren't making shots and me and Jon aren't making shots, it's going to turn into a long night."

The score was tied at 10 with 12 minutes to go in the first half before the Bruins ripped off a 13-2 run that gave them a double-digit lead, and they were never really threatened again.

The lead grew to 54-32 with 14:30 left before the Huskies mounted a small comeback that at least allowed them to play the what-if game.

"It's discouraging because we could have had a better showing if we had played the way we are capable of," said UW coach Lorenzo Romar. "UCLA is a good basketball team, but there were way too many unforced turnovers in the first half."

The Huskies had 11 turnovers in the first half and also hit just 9 of 23 shots in falling to 9-6 on the season and 0-2 in Pac-10 play. The Huskies, 23 of 55 for the game, will need a win at USC on Saturday to avoid a second straight 0-3 conference start.

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Brockman, who led the Huskies with 16 points, said he thought UW was tentative in the first half.

"When we come out scared to make a turnover, scared to make a mistake, you can't play basketball like that and I think that's a little bit of what happened tonight," he said. "We've got to make sure we come out and have confidence."

UCLA improved to 15-1 and 2-0 and now preps for a showdown with No. 4 Washington State on Saturday amid concern over the health of point guard Darren Collison, who played just two minutes in the second half after bruising his left hip.

But Collison's backup, Russell Westbrook, took over to score a game-high 18 points and also shared defensive duties on Appleby, who entered the game as UW's second-leading scorer (12.0).

Appleby started the second half, but after not getting off a shot in four minutes he watched the rest of the game from the bench.

"They were physical with him and put bigger players on him," Romar said, adding that he thought UW's 38-24 edge in points in the paint (including a season-high nine points from Artem Wallace) was due in part to the emphasis on Appleby opening up some things.

And with freshmen Venoy Overton and Matthew Bryan-Amaning seeing some of their most significant time of late, the Huskies cut the lead to 11 midway through the second.

But they could get no closer in a game that left the Huskies 3-42 at Pauley and seemed to indicate there's quite a distance between the teams.

Romar, however, thought the second-half comebacks — the Huskies outscored UCLA 32-28 after halftime — showed signs of hope.

"We were playing what I believe is the No. 1 team in the country on their home floor, so I don't believe you can all the sudden jump to a lot of conclusions," he said. "If it's a 30- to 40-point blowout and you never had a chance, that's [another] thing."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

Read his blogs on Washington football and basketball at www.seattletimes.com/huskies

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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