Bruins started inexperienced, but now learning defense

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LOS ANGELES — The UCLA Bruins, who came into this season young and inexperienced, are finally melding together.

Shabazz Muhammad scored 21 points, fellow freshman Kyle Anderson added 17 and No. 24 UCLA defeated Oregon State 74-64 Thursday, the Bruins’ 10th consecutive victory.

“That’s not really a focus,” Anderson said about the streak. “We’ll let that all fall into itself. We can only focus on what we want to control.”

Travis Wear added 17 points for the Bruins (15-3, 5-0 Pac-12), who equaled their longest winning streak since the 2008-09 season. They have won 23 of the past 24 games played against Oregon State on their home court.

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“We were really young coming into this season and it took time for these guys to adjust and for our team to understand what each other was about,” Wear said. “We understand defensive rotations a lot better and it’s showing in our stats.”

UCLA is 5-0 in the league for the first time since 2003-04, coach Ben Howland’s first season in Westwood.

“We’re a much better team than we were my first year,” he said. “It was a miracle we started 5-0 that year.”

That team promptly lost its next six in a row, then lost another six consecutive to end the season.

But Howland said he doesn’t talk to his team about streaks — win or lose — while keeping their focus on the next game.

Roberto Nelson scored 17 points and Joe Burton added 12 for the Beavers (10-7, 0-4). They lost their fourth in a row.

“The effort was good, but the execution is what has to get better,” Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said. “These guys got used to winning and now they have lost four in a row. And they’re mad. That’s good. I want them to be mad. I want them to be mad enough to play better.”

No. 21 Oregon 76,

at USC 74

Damyean Dotson scored 16 points and the Ducks (15-2, 4-0 Pac-12) overcame a poor shooting night and the hot hand of the Trojans’ J.T. Terrell to win their sixth consecutive game.

Oregon opened with four conference victories in a row for the first time in 39 years when it started 4-0 in the Pac-8.

USC (7-11, 2-3) was coming off a victory over Utah last week, but it marked the final game for coach Kevin O’Neill, who was fired Monday. Bob Cantu, in his 12th season as an assistant at USC, is the interim coach.

The Trojans were down 75-67 with 2:11 remaining. Terrell, who had 22 points, made two free throws to cut Oregon’s lead to 75-74 with 33.1 seconds left. USC was able to get the ball back but missed a three-pointer and a couple of putbacks with Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi finally grabbing the rebound.

E.J. Singler had 14 points for Oregon, which shot just 42.9 percent from the field.

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