Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Trojans Crumble, Bruins Rally For Win

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Arron Afflalo scored 16 points including six free throws in the final 42 seconds to help UCLA rally for a 70-65 victory over crosstown rival USC.

From the tip-off and for most of the game, the Trojans outplayed the Bruins on both ends of the court.  USC came out aggressively staking themselves to a 20-10 lead while shooting 82% after the first six minutes of play.  Eleven of their first points came off UCLA turnovers. 

The Trojans used a 1-4 offensive set to effectively spread the court to allow their perimeter players to breakdown their defenders and penetrate while preventing the Bruins from helping on defense.

On the defensive end, USC started the game in a match-up zone, and the Bruins struggled, playing as if they  were unprepared  to face the zone.  Darren Collison began passively on offense and committed two quick turnovers in the opening minutes which led to an earlier than usual substitution of Russell Westbrook for Collison at the point.

Westbrook immediately went to work attacking the zone at the seams, dishing out three quick assists on dribble penetration and hitting a short jumper over Taj Gibson to spark a short rally. 

After a full time-out called by UCLA Coach Ben Howland with just over six minutes remaining in the half, Arron Afflalo hit a short jumper and the Bruin defense stiffened to help UCLA go on a 11-4 run to head into halftime down by just one point, 30-29.

However, the second half started eerily similar to the first with the Trojans jumping out to a 38-31 lead.  But once again, the Bruins showed their heart and their defense began to lock down on the Trojan offense. 

With 8:45 remaining in the game,  Arron Afflalo hit  his only three-pointer of the night to tie the game, and then took a lead pass from Darren Collison and threw down a monster slam to put the Bruins ahead 50-48.

Then with less than five minutes remaining in the game, the Trojans let the game slip away with a series of missteps.

After Josh Shipp scored a basket and was fouled by USC's Nick Young, senior Lodrick Stewart inexplicably slammed the ball hard high off the court in frustration, and when the ball landed back down he was immediately called for a technical foul.  As a result, the Bruins scored five straight points to put themselves ahead 55-52.

Then after a Trojan timeout with 2:42 remaining, USC Coach Tim Floyd called for Taj Gibson to set a high screen, unfortunately for Gibson, he was still clearly moving when he set the pick and as a result fouled out of the game.

With the Bruins up by six and just 42 seconds remaining USC's Daniel Hackett intentionally fouled Alfred Aboya in front of the referees, giving UCLA two free-throws and the ball resulting in a six point lead.

At this point, UCLA should have been able to walk to the locker room in victory, but the Trojans hit four consecutive three-point shots in the final 30 seconds of the game.  However, the Bruins were able to stave off the late rally by hitting all eight of their free throws to end the game.

Arron Afflalo was only 3-10 from the field and 1-7 from three-point distance, but he was deadly accurate from the line making 9-10.

Darren Collison was able to recover from a miserable start and six turnovers to finish with a team-high 17 points.   

After giving the Bruins a spark in the first half, oddly, Russell Westbrook did not play a single minute in the second-half.  Considering the fact Josh Shipp struggled from the field, going just 1-5, one would have thought Westbrook would have seen more action in the game.  But it appears Coach Howland decided to stick with his more experienced players in a tight game, and it ultimately paid dividends at the end when Shipp hit 5-5 free-throws to help ice the game.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute finished with another double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.  He had difficulty guarding Nick Young for most of the game with Young finishing with 20 points, but in the final minutes of the game Mbah a Moute had two big blocked shots of Young and Gabe Pruitt to help the Bruins preserve the win.

The Trojans out-shot the Bruins from the field 53.8% vs. 44.9%.  However, UCLA was better from the free-throw line making 24-31 (77.1%) while USC shot just 3-5 (60%) from the stripe.  Although there appears  to be a wide disparity between free-throws attempted, one needs to keep in mind the Bruins shot 13 free-throws in the final minutes due to intentional fouls committed by the Trojans.

With the victory No.2 ranked UCLA improves its record to 21-2 overall and 10-2 for first-place in the Pac-10.  While USC falls to fourth place in the conference with a 8-4 record.

UCLA leaves on a flight tomorrow morning for a trek to West Virginia.  The Bruins face the Mountaineers in a nationally televised 10:00 AM PT match-up on Saturday in Morgantown.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)



At Feb 8, 2007, 1:39:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Advice for Mr. Collison: You need to stay another year.
Our record is going to be better than last years!! Can't wait til we get LOVE...

At Feb 8, 2007, 1:52:00 AM, Anonymous Jay Smith said...

I was yelling for Westbrook in the second half, I can't understand why BH didn't play him - he sparked us in the first. I can understand the need to have a vet on the court...but not a single minute for Westbrook??
Glad we won of course against Trojie scum.


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