Saturday, January 07, 2006

Farmar Starts Then Finishes Sun Devils

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

After an emotional victory over Arizona on Thursday, Jordan Farmar was uncertain whether he would play on Saturday against Arizona St.

Farmar did play. And the Bruins are happy he did.

With the game on the line Farmar drove the lane and put in a layup for the game winner with 3.6 seconds left in the game to help the Bruins escape with a 61-60 victory in Tempe.

It was the Sun Devils (6-7, 0-4) second consecutive loss at home on a last second basket by an opponent. On Thursday the USC Trojans won the game on a Loderick Stewart 3PT shot with 2.1 seconds.

The late-game chain in events for this game began with 30 seconds left, Farmar took the ball from the right wing and drove the ball into the lane and hit a ten footer in traffic to put the Bruins up by two.

On Arizona St’s next possession, Bryson Krueger scored on a 3PT jumper to put the Sun Devils up by 1 point with 12 seconds left. Then for some inexplicable reason, the Sun Devil players began celebrating on the court and perhaps even worse Sun Devil head Rob Evans neglected to call a time-out to get his players focused or to set up their defense.

The Bruins inbounded the ball to Farmar. He brought the ball down court to the top of the key and with his defender overplaying him to his right-side, Farmar crossed to his left and drove the lane for the winning layup.

With the win the UCLA Bruins (13-2, 3-1) recorded a sweep over both Arizona schools on the road for the first time since 1997.

Jordan Farmar got the Bruins off to a fast start by scoring five of seven of the team’s first points. Then with Farmar on the bench, the Sun Devils went on a 10-2 run to take the lead behind the shooting of their two big men, Jeff Pendergraph and Serge Angounou.

Pendergraph scored 8 points and Angounou had 14 points in the first half to pace the Sun Devils to a 29-23 first half lead.

Aside from Farmar’s scoring to open the game, he Bruins’s did not play with much intensity on either ends of the court in the first half or for most of the second.

The Bruins played perhaps their worst defense of the season in this game. The Sun Devil guards Kevin Kruger and Antwi Atuahenewere repeatedly dribble-penetrated into the paint for dishes to teammates inside for easy scores - the two combined for 12 assists in the game.

In addition the Bruins did not defend against Arizona St.’s pick in roll, as the Bruin defenders were very slow to rotate to the open screen/roll player and the Sun Devils, especially Angounou, were getting easy layups and dunks throughout the game. Arizona St. shot FG 47.2% for the game

On offense the Bruins began the game settling for outside shots - and they were not hitting them either. The Bruins shot only 36% for the game and were 1-15 from 3PT.

Despite getting out shot by the Sun Devils, the Bruins were in the game because they eventually began to aggressively attack the basket and were getting to the free throw line. The Bruins went to the line 29 times and made 24 (82.8%) while the Sun Devils shot 6-13 free throws.

UCLA also outrebounded Arizona St by a huge margin 36-27. “We won this game”, Howland said “because we made our foul shots and outboarded them”.

Sophomore Arron Afflalo had his worst shooting day of the year going 4-14 from the field but the 6’5 guard showed why he is this team’s most valuable player. Knowing his shot was not falling early, Afflalo began driving hard to the basket and was getting fouled and sent to the foul line. He finished 12-12 from the FT line, and again, finished with a team high 21 points.

Unfortunately Afflalo did not finish the game. With two minutes left in the game and the score tied, Afflalo drove the lane and flipped in a basket and was fouled but then came down hard on his lower back. Afflalo limped gingerly to the bench and could not continue - although Afflalo was going to re-enter the game on the Bruin’s last possession but the coaches decided to call him back.

Center Lorenzo Mata had another strong game in the pivot. Despite suffering from a bloody nose which necessitated him playing with tissue plugs in his nose, Mata scored 7 points mostly on offensive rebounds, grabbed 7 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots.

Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute led the Bruins in rebounding with 8; however, Mbah a Moute had problems guarding his fellow countryman from Cameroon, Serge Angounou, who finished with a game high 23 points on 10-15 shooting. It will be interesting to see what adjustments Luc Richard and the Bruin coaches make against Angounou the next time these two teams play each other.

Josh Shipp scored 10 points on 4-9 shooting and grabbed a season high 7 rebounds. With Cedric Bozeman out with a shoulder injury and Jordan Farmar not playing at 100%, Shipp’s contribution at this early stage of his comeback has been significant to the team.

Farmar played a total of 29 minutes and scored 9 points on 3-8 shooting. After scoring five points in the opening minutes, he appeared to play tentatively throughout most of the game.

But when their leading scorer, Arron Afflalo, went down with his injury, Farmar knew he had to be the one to take over. And the sophomore guard, sore ankle and all, took up the challenge and scored the last four points including the game winner for the Bruins.

The Bruin players fly home to rest up and get ready for their first day of class at school on Monday. Their next game is at Pauley Pavilion against the Washington St. Cougars (8-3, 1-1) on Thursday, Jan.12.


(photo credit: AP/Powers)


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