Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bruins Complete Season Sweep Over Arizona

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

There is a new sheriff in town, or at least the old one has come back after a ten year sabbatical.

The UCLA Bruins beat the Arizona Wildcats 84-73 at Pauley Pavilion giving the Bruins their first sweep of Arizona since the 1996-97 season.

The Bruins (19-4, 9-2) were on their way to a rout of the Wildcats (13-9, 6-5) after the first 30 minutes of play, but the Wildcats clawed their way back in the final minutes of the game before succumbing to their third straight loss in eight days.

Sophomore guard Arron Afflalo regained his shooting stroke scoring a career-high 27 points and hitting 4 of 10 on three-pointers in 35 minutes of play.

Coach Ben Howland gave Afflalo strict orders to stay out of the gym and rest more this week. "You don't prepare for a marathon," Howland said, "by running a marathon a day for five days in a row before the race.”

Afflalo also aggressively attacked the basket and subsequently got to the foul line often hitting 13 of 15 on his free throws.

Jordan Farmar added 13 points and 4 assists to the winning effort. He continued to sparkle on defense adding two more steals in this game.

However Farmar struggled with his mobility at the end of the game after he hurt his left ankle early in the second half when he landed awkwardly on a play. X-rays after the game were negative and he was diagnosed with a mild sprain.

Farmar has been hampered by a right ankle injury for most the season. “It was his left ankle," Howland said. "At least it wasn't his right ankle, which he has already sprained four times this season."

"They would have to kill me to take me out," Farmar said.

The box score for Cedric Bozeman does not accurately describe his contribution to the Bruin win. He scored only 3 points in the game but it came at a time when Arizona was mounting a furious comeback and the Bruins were looking for someone to step forward.

With 3:21 left in the game, Arron Afflalo found Bozeman on the left wing, and the senior forward hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 76-62.

Bozeman took only two shots in the entire game but was once again a steadying force on offense for the Bruins. He also did a good job defensively on Arizona’s Marcus Williams holding the freshman to only 4 of 12 shooting.

Center Ryan Hollins continued his solid play since returning from a groin injury. He scored 12 points and grabbed 3 rebounds in 24 minutes and played solid team defense.

Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 11 points and still managed to lead the team in rebounds with 6 despite only playing 19 minutes.

The Wildcats went big on the frontline for most of the game with 6’10 forwards Ivan Radenovic and Kirk Walters, and Mbah a Moute had problems defensively at times matching up with them.

Coach Ben Howland decided to go with fellow Cameroon freshman Alfred Aboya more in this game. Although Aboya is only 6’8 he is more physical and is more comfortable bodying up in the post. He responded with 3 of 3 shooting for 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in a career-high 22 minutes.

After leading 12-9 in the opening minutes of the game, the Bruins went on a 22-5 run to open a 16 point midway through the first half. The Bruins went into halftime with a 50-34 lead.

Arizona’s Hassan Adams did not score his first basket until 15 minutes into the game and by then the Bruins were leading by 19.

Arron Afflalo contained Adams in the first half; and freshman Michael Roll also did a good job on Adams while spelling Afflalo when he needed to sit for a rest.

Adams finished with 7 points and 3 turnovers in the first half. However, Adams helped key a Wildcat rally in the second half and finished with 19 points for the game.

"You can't keep a good player down," Afflalo said. "I knew the fact he hadn't scored for the first 15 minutes meant nothing."

Arizona's second half rally was the result of a zone which the Bruins had problems figuring out initially which was primarily due to the fact that Jordan Farmar had injured his ankle earlier in the half and could not dribble-penetrate into the zone as he normally would.

In addition, Arizona, knowing Afflalo usually runs the baseline for an open shot against a zone, played a modified box and had Mustafa Shakur shadow Afflalo on his route. But after a timeout, Howland moved Afflalo to the top of the key where he sunk a three-pointer to help solve the zone.

Similar to their previous game against the Trojans, the Wildcats lost despite outshooting their opponent. Arizona shot 58% from the field while UCLA shot 49%.

However, the Bruins shot 12 more free throws than the Wildcats; and the Bruins shot 10 of 23 (43%) on three-pointers while the Wildcats shot only 2 of 8 (25%).

With Arizona losing Saturday, they are now 3 games behind the Bruins in the Pac-10 conference race.

Both Stanford and California swept their Oregon games this week and remain 1 game behind the Bruins in the standings. The Trojans were surprised by Arizona St. on Saturday and fell 3 games off the pace.

The Bruins travel back to the Pacific Northwest next week for two tough games against Washington St. on Thursday (2/9) and Washington on Saturday (2/11).


(photo credit: AP/Matt Sayles)


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