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Just a week ago, UCLA was on a three-game losing streak and had nose-dived to the bottom of the Top Ten after holding the runner-up spot to No. 1 Duke for most of the season.

Now, the ninth-ranked Bruins are suddenly talking about being the top seed in the West Regional of the NCAA tournament after their 80-79 victory over Washington on Sunday - coupled with No. 8 Southern Cal's loss to Washington State - gave them sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 Conference.To win the title in the league which does not have a postseason tournament, the Bruins (23-4, 14-2) have to beat Arizona on Thursday night. The Wildcats are tied for second in the conference with Southern Cal at 13-3. They close the season with Arizona State next Saturday.

"If we beat Arizona, there's no question we should be the number one seed in the West," UCLA guard Mitchell Butler said. "UCLA could represent the West in a great fashion."

UCLA coach Jim Harrick was glad to talk about the same subject.

"We've played a terrific schedule," he said. "If we win the Pac-10, that would be a good move for them."

Don MacLean had 26 points and Tracy Murray added 25 for the Bruins, who took the lead for good on two free throws by Murray with 1:41 to play. Those were the final points of the game as Washington committed turnovers on their final two possessions, the second with six seconds to play.

"I thought we had the kind of effort in this one that it takes," Huskies coach Lynn Nance said. "We haven't gotten ourselves over the hump where you get the win."

In other games involving ranked teams on Sunday, it was: No. 1 Duke 89, No. 16 North Carolina 77; No. 18 Michigan 68, No. 2 Indiana 60; No. 3 Kansas 97, No. 11 Missouri 89; Washington State 82, No. 8 Southern Cal 68; Villanova 76, No. 24 Syracuse 56; and No. 25 Massachusetts 106, Rutgers 94.

In games involving ranked teams on Saturday, it was: No. 4 Arizona 89, Stanford 83; No. 5 Ohio State 93, Northwestern 78; No. 7 Arkansas 100, Mississippi 83; No. 10 Kentucky 99, Tennessee 88; No. 12 Oklahoma State 77, Kansas State 69; Illinois 80, No. 13 Michigan State 71; No. 14 Cincinnati 69, Memphis State 59; No. 15 DePaul 66, Notre Dame 65; No. 17 Georgetown 67, Pittsburgh 57; No. 20 Alabama 82, Auburn 80; No. 21 Tulane 80, Southern Mississippi 70; No. 22 Seton Hall 78, St. John's 71; and No. 23 Louisiana State 89, Mississippi State 80.

Four teams earned automatic berths to the NCAA field of 64 Sunday - Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference, East Tennessee State of the Southern, Northeast Louisiana of the Southland, and Southwestern Louisiana of the Sun Belt. Two were earned on Saturday - Campbell in the Big South and Howard in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

UCLA led 76-71 with 2:51 to play when James French nailed a 3-pointer for the Huskies (12-16, 5-12). Murray and French traded baskets and Chandler Nairn's three-point play on an offensive rebound gave the Huskies, who were led by Rich Manning's 17 points, their final lead with 1:51 to play.

"We were fortunate to win," Harrick said. "When French hit that 3, I'm thinking, `Wait a minute, wait a minute. Maybe it's not in the cards.' But we escaped."

The Bruins can't tie Southern Cal for the title because the Trojans swept the season series for just the second time in 50 years. UCLA, which hasn't won a conference title since 1987, ended Arizona's 71-game home winning streak earlier in the season.

No. 1 Duke 89, No. 16 North Carolina 77

The Blue Devils (25-2, 14-2) beat one of the teams that beat them this season as Christian Laettner closed his home career with 26 points after not scoring for the game's first 14 minutes. He later made five consecutive 3-pointers as Duke blew open the game. Hubert Davis had a career-high 35 points for the Tar Heels (19-8, 9-7), who have lost five of six.

No. 18 Michigan 68, No. 2 Indiana 60

The Wolverines (18-8, 9-7) played their usual inconsistent game but held on to drop the visiting Hoosiers (22-5, 13-3) into a first-place tie in the Big Ten with Ohio State. Jimmy King had 18 points for Michigan, while Chris Webber had 11 points and a season-high 18 rebounds as the "Fab Five" freshman class again started en masse. Indiana shot just 36 percent from the field and made one of eight free throws in the final seven minutes.

No. 3 Kansas 97, No. 11 Missouri 89

The Jayhawks (23-4, 11-3), already the Big Eight's regular-season champions and worst free throw shooting team, made 31 of 36 foul shots to offset a career-high 43 points by Anthony Peeler. The senior guard's fifth 3-pointer of the game cut Kansas' lead to 91-89 with 45 seconds to play, but the Jayhawks made four straight free throws and added a layup to sweep the season series and send the visiting Tigers (20-7, 8-6) to their third straight loss.

Washington St. 82, No. 8 Southern Cal 68

The Cougars (20-10, 8-9) were 11-for-18 from 3-point range and held Harold Miner well below his Pac-10 leading scoring average in keeping alive their chances at an at-large NCAA berth. Miner, who was 5-for-17 from the field, did not have a field goal in the second half as he finished with 19 points, eight below his season average. Bennie Seltzer scored all but three of his 18 points on 3-pointers as he went 5-for-7 from that range. The visiting Trojans (21-5, 13-3) had started the day tied for the conference lead but were outscored 21-7 over the game's final 6:45.

Villanova 76, No. 24 Syracuse 56

The Wildcats (14-13, 11-7) won their sixth straight and the two schools will meet again Friday in the Big East quarterfinals. Villanova used a 17-0 run to take a 44-18 lead on the way to the road victory. The Orangemen (18-9, 10-8) shot 22 percent in the first half and went scoreless for more than eight minutes as they lost for the sixth time in eight games.

No. 25 Massachusetts 106, Rutgers 94

The Minutemen (26-4) won their 10th straight and advanced to tonight's semifinals of the Atlantic-10 tournament against Rhode Island. Jim McCoy had 24 points and Tony Barbee added 21 as five Massachusetts players were in double figures. The Scarlet Knights (15-14) closed within 63-58 early in the second half, but McCoy scored eight points in a 10-2 run that sealed the victory. Steve Worthy led Rutgers with a career-high 32 points.