Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bruins Shake Off Early Deficit For Win

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Lorenzo Mata hauled down a career-high 16 rebounds to lead top-ranked UCLA to a 78-54 victory over CS Fullerton at Pauley Pavilion.

The final margin of victory was not indicative of an exhausting, hard-fought game in which the outcome was not decided until the latter part of the second-half.

The Titans started the game with more intensity than the Bruins jumping to a 14-4 lead in the opening five minutes by pressuring the Bruins into six early turnovers and hurried shots.

But after a UCLA timeout, the Bruins calmed down and began taking better care of the ball.  They went on their own 14-2 run to regain the lead 18-16 midway through the first-half.

"We didn't think they were going to jump on us like that," junior guard Arron Afflalo said. "We just had to get some defensive stops. This team showed a lot of maturity and bounced back."

Afflalo led all scorers with 20 points on 7 of 15 shooting and 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.  He also hit a momentum-changing three-point shot to end the first-half putting UCLA up 39-33 at intermission.

Sophomore UCLA point-guard Darren Collison had problems with the Titan's pressure defense and committed a season-high five turnovers.  Collison had entered the game with a an excellent 2.7/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.  The Titans overplayed the Bruins on the wings but Collison did not adjust leading to passes either being tipped or stolen.

"It was just me making wrong decisions," Collison said.

Collison finished with 15 points and just 3 assists but played well on the defensive end recording six steals.

Coming into the game, the Bruins had been averaging only 11.5 turnovers, but under the duress of the Titan pressure defense and somewhat careless Bruin passing, UCLA ended up committing a season-high 21 turnovers with 14 of them occurring in the first-half.

Fortunately for the Bruins, the Titans were careless themselves committing 28 turnovers.

On offense the Titans were initially effective breaking down the Bruin perimeter defense off the dribble which led to easy layups or dishes to Scott Cutley underneath who scored all his 11 points in the first half.

In addition to attacking the Bruins off the bounce, the Titans attempted to go after Lorenzo Mata one-on-one inside with their quicker post players, but Mata responded with solid defense including three blocked shots.  In addition to his rebounding high totals, the junior center added 9 points on 4 of 9 shooting.

With another lackluster first-half team performance behind them, UCLA came out in the second-half with more intensity and playing solid defense. The Bruins went on a 9-2 run to start the half to go up by 13. However, the Titans had one more run left in them and cut the lead to just 6 points with eight minutes remaining.

By then the CS Fullerton starters were exhausted having played most of the game, and the Bruins finished the game outscoring the Titans 25-7.

"They wore us down with their strength and defense," CS Fullerton coach Bob Burton said.. "Our best players were falling down trying to penetrate. All of a sudden we couldn't score and then the turnovers came."

After allowing the Titans to shoot 43% in the first-half, the Bruins limited them to only 30% in the second.  Led by Mata, UCLA out-rebounded the under-sized Titans 40-31.

UCLA's Josh Shipp chipped in 16 points including 3 of 5 on three-pointers.  As a team, the Bruins finished 53.3% from beyond the arc.

Sophomore forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had perhaps his worst game since his freshman season.  Plagued by early foul trouble, Mbah a Moute never appeared to get on track finishing with just 2 point, 4 rebounds, and a career-high 5 turnovers in just 19 minutes.

Fellow Cameroon countryman Alfred Aboya played well in reserve of Mbah a Moute by scoring 8 points on 4 of 7 shooting.

"I thought Alfred gave us a boost when he came into the game," Howland said. "He played with a lot of intensity and energy."

Freshman James Keefe looked quite comfortable on the floor providing 10 minutes of solid defensive effort and added 4 points.

UCLA improved their record to 7-0 and will next face No.6 ranked Texas A&M at the Wooden Classic on Saturday.  Texas A&M lost Tuesday to No.11 ranked LSU in Baton Rouge, 64-52

BBR Notes:  UCLA Football Head Coach Karl Dorrell and members of the football team were present at halftime to ring the "Victory Bell" which they claimed after their win over USC on Saturday.  "We haven't seen the Victory Bell for a long time," Dorrell said.  "Our goal is to keep it for a long time."

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)



At Dec 5, 2006, 11:06:00 PM, Anonymous jrbruin2001 said...

I'm looking forward to your Aggie preview. Keep it up!

At Dec 6, 2006, 1:22:00 AM, Anonymous DaveW said...

Great game summary. I really like how Keefe played yesterday. He has a real solid understanding of the game.

At Dec 6, 2006, 2:22:00 AM, Anonymous bruinfan said...

I'm not a season ticket holder, and I purposely missed the game against UCR.
Last night's game was definitely ugly for those of you not there. I'm sure glad North Carolina or Ohio State aren't on the schedule. We need some big men!! Our season has been full of playin cupcakes!! Let's see how we do this weekend!! I think our team is tired of the little fish and want a big Kahuna. Wooden Classic - UCLA wins again...I'm tellin people about this site...good work!! I like hearing about the recruits coming in...GO BRUINS (in all sports)

At Dec 6, 2006, 3:06:00 AM, Anonymous OjaiBruin said...

As always, great summary. I liked Keefe out there - he's going to be a really solid player by next year. That steal, fast break and lay-in was a thing of beauty. Too bad Ryan Wright finds himself way down the bench these days. I also thought Westbrooke looked composed and did a nice job subbing in.

At Dec 6, 2006, 4:13:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

Keefe is a steady player and will earn more minutes as the season progresses. He'll be even better once he learns to relax more on the court, he's still a bit mechanical and thinking too much rather than going with flow of the game. Yet, he still provides the team with solid minutes.
As for Ryan Wright, the coaching staff maintains he is progressing as they expected, whether that means it will translate into more minutes this season is another question.
The development of Lorenzo Mata in the middle is probably the biggest reason for Wright's decreased minutes.
Aboya is still the first center off the bench and played admirably yesterday, but in the long-term not sure if he is a big enough defensive presence in the middle especially once the Bruins hit Pac-10 play.
Whether Wright is a better solution will depend on his development and maturation over the rest of the season. But he needs minutes on the floor to improve.
UCLA still has a few OOC games to sort the rotations out before Pac-10 begins.

At Dec 6, 2006, 6:45:00 AM, Anonymous Bob said...

I love watching Mata play. His rebounding is a mixture of hustle, technique, and surprising strength on the ball. He doesn't try to tip the ball to himself; he just grabs it. Watching him rebound is as impressive to me as Afflalo's defense or Collison's quickness.
That being said, I'm concerned we're going to have to pull him out late in a close game. His free throw shooting is a major liability.


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