Sunday, April 02, 2006

UCLA Slams LSU, Advance to Championship Final

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

With Bruin legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Reggie Miller cheering among the 43,822 at the RCA Dome, UCLA dominated the LSU Tigers, 59-45, to advance to the NCAA championship game for the first time since 1995.

For the second consecutive tournament game, UCLA held their opponent to just 45 points.

The Bruins went into half-time with a big 39-24 lead, and finished off the Tigers with a 9-3 run to begin the second-half which included two dunks by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, a lob-dunk by Ryan Hollins, and a three-pointer by Jordan Farmar.

LSU’s leading scorer Glen “Big Baby” Davis was frustrated by a rotation of Bruin defenders who held him to only 5 of 17 shooting, and just 5 points in the first half.

UCLA’s Mbah a Moute, Hollins, Alfred Aboya, and Lorenzo Mata took turns guarding Davis who was visibly physically worn by halftime.

Mbah a Moute and Mata spent the most time against Davis. Mbah a Moute used his speed and length to stay in front of Davis, while Mata blocked two of Davis' shots, as the Bruins thoroughly frustrated the 310-pounder.

“Big Baby” Davis finished the game with 14 points, but most of his scoring occurred after the final outcome. He fouled out after two intentional frustration fouls in the closing minutes of the game.

"They came out and punched us and we didn't recover from it," Davis said.

LSU’s other big man, Tyrus Thomas, was a non-factor. He played only 17 minutes after he got into early foul trouble and LSU tried to play with a smaller line-up to keep up with the Bruins.

Although Thomas, a shot-blocker deluxe, recorded 3 blocks in the game, he was essentially neutralized by the Bruin player’s use of a “jump-stop” to get Thomas in the air before taking their shot attempt.

Howland stresses the use of the “jump-stop” in order to allow his players to attack the basket under more control, and the lessons paid off against LSU.

With the two LSU big men controlled, the UCLA defense attacked the weak point of the Tiger offense – their guards.

The Bruins guards picked up the LSU guards at half-court and pressured them relentlessly the entire game; and made a concerted effort to keep the ball out of the hands of Tiger’s point-guard Darrell Mitchell and to make someone else on LSU to bring the ball up.

With UCLA picking up the ball with heavy pressure at half-court – most notably Darren Collison who used his speed to hound the Tiger guards, the Bruins were able to create turnovers and, just as importantly, prevent LSU from getting into their offensive flow.

UCLA limited LSU to just 32% field goal shooting from floor, and 0 of 6 from three-point distance.

When asked what surprised him most about UCLA, LSU Head Coach John Brady said, "One key tonight, and we didn't see this as well on tape, was their physical-ness." - obviously, LSU needs to spend more time in the film room next time.

As good as UCLA’s defense was for the entire game, the Bruin offense, especially in the first half, was just as impressive.

The Bruins spread their offensive in the half-court and lethally attacked the Tiger helpless Tiger defense. Mbah a Moute led the Bruins in scoring with 12 of his 17 points in the first half on a combination of drives and put-backs. He also added a game-high 9 rebounds.

Farmar scored 12 points on 4 of 9 shooting including 3 of 6 from beyond the three-point arc. He along with freshman Darren Collison controlled the game’s tempo from the point.

Collison scored 6 points in 21 minutes of play as he got into the middle of the paint with ease for all his scores.

Moreover, it was the Bruin depth which was another key to the game. With Mbah a Moute, Hollins, and Afflalo in first-half foul trouble, UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland had to go the bench and the reserves responded.

In the first half, UCLA's bench players accounted for 43 of the 80 minutes played in the first half.

In addition to Collison’s play, Lorenzo Mata recorded 8 rebounds in addition to the two blocks on Davis. He was a huge defensive presence and controlled the pain while Hollins sat with early fouls.

Hollins played despite a bruised thigh scoring 6 points and grabbing 3 rebounds. He started the UCLA scoring with a 18-foot jumper from the free-throw circle to open the game.

"Defense wins championships and our shots fell," Hollins said. "That's a very, very good team we just beat tonight."

Senior forward Cedric Bozeman was aggressive once again offensively, slashing to the basket for tough scores in the paint. He finished with 4 points and 5 rebounds.

"We're capable of scoring," forward Cedric Bozeman said. "People get so caught up into the ugliness of the games because other teams are not scoring."

UCLA won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding LSU by a margin of 39-32.

Coach Howland had been concerned about LSU’s rebounding, and adjusted by having his perimeter players crash the defensive glass. In addition to Bozeman’s rebounds, guards Farmar, Afflalo, and Collison combined for 14 rebounds in the game.

UCLA faces the Florida Gators in the championship game. The Gators defeated George Mason in an earlier semifinal game.

The Bruins will try to earn their record 12th NCAA men’s basketball championship banner on Monday.



At Apr 2, 2006, 1:59:00 PM, Blogger baller7 said...

If I had a dollar for every time UCLA and UGLY were mentioned in the same sentence over the last week, I could have retired by Wednesday. Not that I would have been able to live with myself getting rich off such nonsense.

UCLA ugly? Please… We understand the overweight east coast establishment hating us because we’re beautiful, but although their dogs may hunt, this one most definitely don’t.

You just can’t dress ugly up like that. Not all the plastic surgeons in Los Angeles could make ugly look as good as the Bruins did last night.

If UCLA wins ugly Jessica Simpson might as well be a pig. Because as anybody with eyes can tell you, not only JS is smokin’ hot but UCLA’s final four stomping of the LSU Tigers in Indianapolis Saturday night was a work of art.

Defense wins championships and one has wonder if any of my hypothetical dollar donors know a damn thing about the game of basketball or if their honestly and integrity begins and ends with the Detroit Pistons.

The reality on the court is that the best shooters in world go cold from time to time and even the Showtime Lakers had games where they launched up enough bricks to add entire sections to the Berlin Wall. But see, if you don’t let the other team score, you don’t lose. Period.

And the fact of the matter is UCLA is playing defense better than any other team in the history of college basketball. The combined 90 points the Bruins gave up in the last two rounds is the lowest total in the history of the tournament since the advent of the shot clock.

They don’t lock em down any better at Pelican Bay.

Such dominant D not only wins games, makes opponents cry, and causes the entire cast of ESPN’s The Sports Reporters offer analysis one would expect from a six year old girl, but it also seems to make people forget what they just witnessed.

UCLA shot 58% in the first half against an LSU front line that was so hyped by the UCLA is UGLY establishment that one would have thought they already had a couple of NBA defensive player of year awards under their belts. Yet Hollins and the Prince made a living dunking over them. Farmar destroyed the Tigers with dead eye shooting and ball distribution that could only be described as.. well.. Dare I say beautiful?

This phenomenon was on full display as I watched the Boston Globe honk on ESPN this morning wonder who other than Farmar can score points for UCLA. It seems Aaron Aflalo’s superior defensive skills made the dirt clod forget who actually leads the team in scoring.

At Apr 2, 2006, 9:52:00 PM, Blogger BBR said...

Great post. I think the rest of the nation, including pundits, finally got the memo after watching UCLA dismantle LSU.

Defense wins games, and UCLA has the coach and athletes to make it work.

Memphis's scoring woes were not an accident - it was caused by the Bruins.

LSU's transition defense was horrid, and the game plan to run Big Baby Davis was brilliant.

Ben Howland is brilliant.

Just one more!

At Apr 9, 2006, 9:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, you guys put it to us....


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