Friday, January 27, 2006

Bruins Know How To Win Tough, Edge Ducks

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

The UCLA Bruins (16-4, 6-2) pulled out a rough road victory with a 56-49 win over the Oregon Ducks (10-10, 4-4) in Eugene.

The Ducks famed arena, “The Pit”, has been a graveyard for many visiting teams. Oregon was undefeated at home in conference play this year which included a sweep over both Arizona schools. However on this night of solid defensive play by both teams, the Bruins came out on top.

In a contest in which no team led by more than five points for most of the game, it was more of a slugfest than a basketball game.

UCLA’s Arron Afflalo battled Oregon’s Malik Hairston all night with each player holding the other below their season scoring average.

Afflalo had 12 points on only 3 of 10 shooting. He played great denial defense on Hairston by using his speed advantage in keeping the ball out of his hands.

When Hairston did get the ball, Afflalo teammate’s, especially Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, would slide over to give defensive help. Hairston, who was averaging 15.2 points per game, was held to only 6 points on 3 of 8 shooting.

In addition to providing defensive help on Hairston, Mbah a Moute recorded his sixth double-double of the season scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

For the game the Bruins out-rebounded the Ducks 34-27.

The Ducks have undergone a total team transformation in midseason. They began the year as an up-tempo running team but have now become a half-court methodical offensive team. In addition, they have stepped up their defensive intensity.

They held the Bruins to 41.3% shooting for the game and 12 points below their scoring average. UCLA shot only 4 of 16 from beyond the arc.

Oregon’s strategy against the Bruins was to focus their defense on slowing UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar by having a bigger guard defend him. 6’5 Bryce Taylor and 6’4 Brandon Lincoln took turns guarding Farmar.

The defensive scheme appeared to bother Farmar for most of the evening but towards the end of the game Farmar began driving around high screens for either lay-ups or shooting fouls. He finished with 14 points although he only shot 5 of 9 on free throws.

Senior Cedric Bozeman returned to the line-up after rehabilitating his left shoulder and missing eight games. Bozeman had 3 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist in 18 minutes of play. As he did earlier in the year, Bozeman had a steadying influence on the offense. He provides the Bruins with another ball-handler and good passer on the floor.

If Bozeman can stay healthy for the rest of the season, his presence and play elevates the team which may translate to good success in postseason play. In addition to his offensive contributions, Bozeman switched over to guard Oregon’s Malik Hairston at times during the game in order to give Afflalo some rest.

For Oregon this was a game it could have won.

Ivan Johnson, a physical 6’8 forward, was a tough match-up inside for the Bruins. He scored 10 points in the game. In addition to Johnson on the inside, 6’8 Adam Zahn also scored 6 points. The two give this perimeter-oriented Oregon club an inside game to build upon in the future.

However, with Hairston underwraps the Ducks just did not have enough offense.

Oregon’s junior point guard Aaron Brooks had another forgettable game. After shooting 2 of 12 against Washington on Saturday, Brooks shot 3 of 10 in this game and committed four turnovers.

The Bruins held the Ducks to only 32.2% field goal shooting and only 3 of 17 on 3-pointers.

UCLA now sits atop the Pac-10 conference alone after California defeated Washington, 71-69.

The Bruins now travel to Corvallis for a match-up against the Oregon St. Beavers. The Beavers lost to USC in overtime, 72-70.


(photo credit: AP)


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