No. 13 UCLA Handles Fairfield

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Three powerhouse opponents in a week proved too much for overmatched Fairfield.

No. 13 UCLA used its speed and 16 points from Jason Kapono in his college debut for a season-opening 76-57 victory over the Stags on Tuesday night.

"I felt comfortable, plus I've been playing basketball since I was five years old," Kapono said. "That's what I try to bring to this team steady basketball."

The Bruins did not lead by more than five points in the first half, when they shot just 29 percent and Fairfield was hitting 40 percent from the field.

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  • UCLA coach Steve Lavin blamed the slow start on nagging injuries that allowed only six players to see action in a recent exhibition game and also disrupted practice.

    "It was a good lesson in practice equals performance," he said. "You can't expect to perform well if you haven't put in time in practice. The good news is we're on the mend; the bad news is we've got lots to work on."

    Chris Rivers scored 10 points for the Stags of the Metro Atlantic Conference, 0-3 after losses to Kansas, UNLV and the Bruins on their season-opening road trip. They were hampered by 32 turnovers.

    "When I walked into Pauley (Pavilion), I was in awe of all the (NCAA) banners," Fairfield forward Darren Phillip said. "The Bruins look like they have good player chemistry and are jelling quickly."

    Kapono, a highly touted forward out of the same suburban Lakewood high school that produced UCLA stars Ed and Charles O'Bannon, helped the Bruins to their first double-digit lead of the game early in the second half.

    "I told him for a freshman, not bad," Lavin said. "What makes him unusual is his poise and composure for his age. He's fundamentally sund, but still has some flair and style for the game."

    Kapono and Jerome Moiso combined to score UCLA's first 12 points of the second half as part of a 24-14 run that gave the Bruins a 53-39 lead with 10:15 remaining. Kapono showed off his versatility by scoring inside, from mid-range and hitting a 3-pointer in the spurt.

    "I haven't seen him play like a freshman," Moiso said. "He knows what to do."

    Moiso finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

    "I guess I played OK, but we need to get to work and play better," Moiso said. "I have to go to work inside and get rebounds."

    As the Bruins' shooting picked up, so did their defensive pressure, despite JaRon Rush earning his fourth foul and Moiso getting his third. Their full-court pressure harassed the Stags into poor shooting while the Bruins kept a steady 15-point lead.

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