Friday, February 03, 2006

Bruins Win 18th, Beat Sun Devils

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

With just over half the Pac-10 conference season completed, the UCLA Bruins (18-4, 8-2) matched last year’s win total with a 69-60 victory over the Arizona St. Sun Devils.

As he had done in previous coaching positions, UCLA head coach Ben Howland’s teams have improved in each of their first three years. In 2003-04 the Bruins finished with an 11-17 record; and in 2004-05 they improved to 18-11.

With eight games left in Pac-10 conference play, Pac-10 tournament games, and NCAA postseason tournament, the Bruins will surely surpass the 20 game win level for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Against Arizona State (7-12, 1-9), the Bruins played a rather uninspired game against the last place team in the Pac-10 conference. They allowed the Sun Devils to remain competitive in the contest until the end.

UCLA started the game missing on outside jumper and allowed ASU to take an early lead in the game, but then sophomore guard Jordan Farmar, sensing his team needed a lift, took over by scoring the team’s first seven points to put the Bruins in the lead 7-6.

Farmar was the only Bruin to score more than four points in the first half. He hit on 6 of 8 field goals scoring 15 points to stake the Bruins to the slim halftime lead. He finished the game with a team-high 18 points and 6 assists.

Similar to the game at Tempe, the Sun Devils came out with more intensity than the Bruins on both ends of the court. ASU was able to get high percentage shots throughout the first half and trailed only 32-30 at halftime. The Sun Devils shot 52% in the first half on 13 of 23 shooting.

At halftime, coach Ben Howland noting the lack of intensity on the part of his Bruins and that perhaps they were taking ASU for granted urged his team to play more physically defensively especially in the paint.

The Bruins came out with a little more energy but the big difference in the second half was the re-emergence of sophomore guard Arron Afflalo.

Afflalo, who has been mired in a prolonged shooting slump, struggled in the first half of this game shooting only 1 of 5, but then came alive in the second half hitting 4 of 6 shots and finishing the game with 17 points.

“I know it’s not always about me scoring.” Afflalo said, “I was confident my game would come back to me.”

Senior forward Cedric Bozeman had another solid game since returning from a shoulder injury shooting 4 of 5 from the field and hitting a key 3-pointer with 0:51 seconds left to give the Bruins a nine point cushion. Bozeman finished with 10 points and 4 assists.

Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute matched his season rebounding average of 9 rebounds in the game. He also finished with 8 points.

In one of the keys to the game, Mbah a Moute and fellow freshman Alfred Aboya did a better job in defending fellow Cameroon countryman, Serge Angounou. In the previous game in Tempe, Angounou scored 23 points and almost single-handedly won the game for ASU. At Pauley Pavilion Angounou was held to 11 points on only 3 of 5 shooting although he did finish with 9 rebounds.

The Bruins shot 48.9% from the field and hit on 8 or 20 on 3-pointers for 40% in the game.

UCLA will clash with the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday. Arizona was upset at the Sports Arena on Thursday night by the Trojans, 77-70.


(photo credit: AP/Carlson)


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