Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bruins Step On Jackets, Collison MVP

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Darren Collison scored 15 points and handed out 7 assists to lead No. 5 ranked UCLA to an 88-73 rout of Georgia Tech to win the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Using a stifling and trapping defense, UCLA took Georgia Tech out of its normal offensive flow and imposed their will in almost every facet of the game. 

UCLA led by 11 at halftime and streched their advantage to 20 points halfway through the final period.

Collison harassed Georgia Tech’s freshman star, Javaris Crittenton, limiting him to just eights point and causing him to be a non-factor for most of the game. Crittenton entered averaging 15.4 points and 6.2 assists a contest.

Josh Shipp and Arron Afflalo took turns guarding the Yellow Jacket’s other talented freshman, Thaddeus Young, holding him to just 4 of 12 shooting for 13 points with many of those scores coming late after the game had been decided.

In the interior the UCLA frontcourt was simply more physical and aggressive than their opponents and kept control of the boards, 33-31.  A day earlier Georgia Tech had out-rebounded Memphis by 15 caroms.

On offense UCLA executed with surgical precision. The Bruins shot 57% from the field and 38% (8 of 21) from beyond the arc.

To start the game Georgia Tech defended UCLA with a straight man-to-man defense, but Collison patiently directed the offense and carved up the Tech defense through dribble penetration and good use of well executed low and high screens to create easy scoring opportunities for teammates.

When Georgia Tech switched to a zone, designated zone-buster sophomore Michael Roll came through with 5 of 7 shooting including 3 big shots from beyond the arc. The Tech zone also allowed UCLA’s Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to roam free and chase down five offensive rebounds in just the first half.

Roll finished with 13 points while Mbah a Moute finished with 14 points on a perfect 7 of 7 shooting and had time to haul down 7 rebounds.

Afflalo overcame a bad shooting game against Kentucky the night before to finish with a team-high 19 points on 6 of 13 shooting. He also had 2 steals.

Lorenzo Mata was close to another double-double finishing with 9 points and 10 rebounds.

Georgia Tech’s Lewis Clinch scored a game-high 21 minutes, but it wasn’t nearly enough as UCLA improved their record to 4-0 while Tech suffered their first loss of the season after winning five.

"This was a great team effort," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "I'm just so excited about how we're playing right now this early in the season. This was a hard, hard place to play and to put together three good days in a row was tough."

The only negative from the game for UCLA was their poor free-throw shooting. The Bruins struggled at the line making only 18-31 for 58%. No doubt the coaching staff will have players shooting many free throws when they return to Westwood.

But before they return home, the team will enjoy some time on the island.  The players and coaches will stay in Maui through Thanksgiving and spend the holiday together.

Darren Collison was selected as the tournament MVP, and both he and Arron Afflalo were named to the All-Tournament team.

"It's crazy," Collison said of being chosen the MVP. "Any of us could have won it. I'm just glad we got the victory and came out champions."

It was UCLA's first Maui Invitational championshp after three tries. The Bruins finished third on Maui in 2001 and were sixth in 1995.

BBR Notes: UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland showed his players he can walk the talk when he stood his ground and took a charge from Georgia Tech’s 6’9 250 lb center Ra’Sean Dickey who ran into Howland on the sidelines in pursuit of a loose ball. Howland quickly recovered and stood up - smiling that his team got the ball off the turnover.

"My knee started to hurt at halftime. Hopefully an MRI will show nothing," Howland said drawing a laugh. "I took a charge for the team. He whacked me good."

(photo credit: AP)



At Nov 22, 2006, 9:35:00 PM, Anonymous David said...

If there's a better-looking team than UCLA at this early point of the season, I'd like to see it.

At Nov 23, 2006, 1:00:00 AM, Anonymous BBfan said...

UCLA put it all together on both ends of the court last night. Great job Ben!
This team is going to be fun to watch all year.

At Nov 23, 2006, 3:49:00 AM, Anonymous ErnieC said...

Happy Thanksgiving, great win in Maui.
I noticed at the end of the UCLA bench a big blonde headed young man who looked like a football player he did not get into the game, but the announcers made mention of him.
Could you please tell who he is I did'nt hear what they had to say about him Thank you.

At Nov 23, 2006, 3:52:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

The player's name is Jamie Diefenbach. He tried out at the Bruin open tryouts earlier in the year and is currently on the UCLA volleyball team. He's big and stands at 6'7. His primary role on the team is to help our big men get better at practice.

At Nov 23, 2006, 12:11:00 PM, Anonymous christine said...

This is going to be another exciting year for Bruin Basketball.
As a DEVOTED Bruin... I cant wait for Pac 10 play. Once again.... the Bruins reign!
Congrats Darren! Jordan who??


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