Tuesday, April 04, 2006

UCLA Loses To Florida In Title Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

The UCLA Bruins 2005-06 championship run ended Monday night with a 73-57 loss to the Florida Gators.

Florida started the game more aggressive than UCLA, and executed well on both ends of the court.

Unlike the LSU game in which the Bruins controlled the perimeter with excellent defensive pressure on their guards, they were unable to to effectively defend Florida’s guards, especially Taurean Green.

Although Green did not shoot well from the field – just 1 of 9, he was able to dribble-penetrate effectively against he Bruins all game. UCLA started 6’6 forward Cedric Bozeman defensively on him, but Green was too quick for Bozeman at times.

One of the reasons Green was able to easily attack the Bruins defense was because Florida spread the court, similar to what USC had done in the second game to UCLA, and Green used his speed to get into the paint for easy assists to the Gator’s big men.

The Gators had 21 assists in a game in which they made 26 field goals. Green recorded a game-high 8 assists to lead his team. For the game, the Gators committed only six turnovers.

In addition, Florida’s big men, Joakim Noah and Al Horford, demonstrated surprising quickness and good ball-handling skills on the perimeter as they helped relieve some of the defensive ball pressure UCLA tried to apply on the guards.

Both Florida big men were also very effective in passing out of the UCLA double-teams in the low post to open teammates underneath for numerous dunks.

Defensively, Noah and Horford controlled the paint, combining for 10 blocked shots in the game – Noah had 6 blocks himself, and essentially shut down the Bruin inside game.

Jordan Farmar led the Bruins with 18 points but was 8 of 21 from the floor . Whenever he was able to penetrate into the paint, he was met by the long-arms of Florida's big men who either deflected his passes or made him take difficult shots.

UCLA’s Arron Afflalo had a tough shooting night, he was held scoreless in the first-half by Florida’s Corey Brewer, and finished the game scoring 10 points on 3 of 10 shooting.

After playing a string of solid tournament games, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Darren Collison showed their inexperience. Both players were bothered by Florida’s pressure defense and up-tempo which caused them to speed up their game, and took them out of the flow of the Bruin offense.

Mbah a Moute took several ill-advised outside shots when the Bruins should have tried to work the ball inside for higher-percentage scores. He did finish with 10 rebounds but he scored only 6 points on 3 of 9 shooting.

At times, Collison pushed the ball too deep in transition and many times forced tough scoring chances for his teammates. He finished scoreless with just 1 assist and 3 turnovers.

Ultimately, the Bruins lost because they were unable to get the job done defensively. The Gators shot 44% for the game, and answered with either a slam dunk or three-point shot whenever it appeared the Bruins were ready to make a run.

The Gator defense held the Bruins to only 36% shooting and 3 of 17 from beyond the three point arc.

UCLA faced a Florida team which played better than them on Monday night, and the Gators rightfully deserved to win the game.

Bruin seniors Cedric Bozeman, Ryan Hollins, Michael Fey, and Janou Rubin played their last game as Bruins in this game.

Bruin Basketball Report wishes all the UCLA seniors the very best success in the future, and thank them for all their contributions to the program.

Finally, congratulations to Head Coach Ben Howland and UCLA's men’s basketball team on a truly remarkable season.

For a team picked to finish third in the Pac-10 conference during the preseason, it was certainly a special journey all the way to the Final Four championship game.


(photo credit: AP)


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