Tuesday, November 20, 2007

UCLA Rallies Past Michigan St., 68-63

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute hit a three-point shot from the corner with 31 seconds remaining in the game to cap off a furious second-half rally as UCLA edged Michigan St., 68-63, in the finals of the CBE Classic.

Up to that basket, UCLA had not held the lead at any time during the game.

After this hard fought contest, there should absolutely be no question that Kevin Love is the real deal. The freshman from Lake Oswego scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while single-handedly keeping his team in the game. And he did it against a rotation of four Spartans who pounded him all night while expending 14 personal fouls on him.

Love kept his cool and let his game do the talking, hitting 9-12 from the line. Of his 11 rebounds, 8 were on the offensive boards as he battled and hit back.

"That's an everyday thing for me," said Love. "If we're going to be a great team, we're all going to have bang down low."

UCLA got a little bit of their own medicine in the first half when the Spartans came out more physical and took it right at them. Michigan State went into halftime with a 36-25 lead.

But the Bruins came out in the second-half with an intensity that finally matched the tempo of the game and started cutting into the lead. UCLA cut the margin to just four points on a lay-up by Mbah a Moute with under ten minutes left in the game.

The Spartans fought back and and built the lead to 63-58 on a Drew Nieizel three-point shot with 2:18 left in the game. But Kevin Love wasn't about to let the Bruins falter as he followed up moments later with a post up three-point play to bring the Bruins back to within two points.

The UCLA trap, which was very effective in the second-half, netted another steal - this time by Alfred Aboya who went in for a lay-up and missed but Mbah a Moute was there for the follow-up slam to tie the game.

After a Drew Neitzel missed three-pointer and a UCLA time-out, the ball was inbounded and Mbah a Moute hit the big shot from the corner to win the game. Josh Shipp added two free-throws for the final margin.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland made big adjustments at halftime that led to the Bruin victory. First the Bruins started aggressively trapping the Spartan point guards along the sidelines which resulted in key turnover points.

On offense, Howland took advantage of Love's size and passing skills by moving him to the high post while positioning Josh Shipp down low to post up against the smaller Spartan guards. Shipp scored 14 of his 18 points in the second-half.

Point-guard Russell Westbrook had a gutty performance playing the entire 40 minutes in the game. He added 13 points and 6 rebounds but it was his defense and two late game steals which were key for the Bruins.

"I'm really proud of our toughness mentally," Howland said. "The one thing about our team is they never give up. They never give up, ever and that's a sign of mentally-tough kids."

With the victory over Michigan St., the Bruins claimed the CBE Classic championship trophy.

The Bruins head back to Westwood for a quick Thanksgiving rest and then suit up again on Friday night to face Yale at Pauley Pavilion.

(photo credit: AP)



At Nov 20, 2007, 9:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the big deal? The PAC-10 is looking weak this year - with Oregon losing last night and now UCLA barely getting by an average M.St. team. How many Pac-10 teams have already lost this year? Don't see any of those "upsets" happening in the other conferences.

At Nov 20, 2007, 10:22:00 PM, Anonymous Zach said...

There's a reason why that last comment is anonymous - it's clearly wrong. I'm not sure how beating the #10 team in the country, away from home, while missing a preseason All-American and two other significant contributors is anything but a triumph for UCLA. How many other top 10 teams have even played another top 10 team? Exactly zero. As far as the Pac-10 many commentators have called them the best conference in the US - and unlike you they've signed their names to back up their opinions.

At Nov 20, 2007, 11:05:00 PM, Anonymous Don said...

I second that Zach... Michigan St is a quality opponent and they fought them for 40 minutes. I can't believe anyone would consider the number 11 team in the country average and downplay the W, epecially going against them without your PG.

At Nov 20, 2007, 11:25:00 PM, Anonymous Scott said...

Mich St. is far from average! That guy or girl who posted at 5:24 AM must be a North Carolina fan who went sleepless last night! Westbrook's 8 consecutive points really sparked the comeback last night and he has some serious hops! UCLA's first half was just a fluke but Izzo's teams really play tough defense. Great comeback man! Come on Mata-Real please work on those frick'n free throws! Go Bruins!

At Nov 20, 2007, 11:27:00 PM, Anonymous Lee said...

I agree. Probably a SEC school graduate posted that. As for upsets, see Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio State

At Nov 21, 2007, 12:47:00 AM, Anonymous JonW said...

Okay Bruin fans, who can be honest here...
When you saw look Luc take the pass in the corner for the three at the end of the game...how many of you shouted out at the TV......Nooooooooooooooo!
Then only to cheer your blue 'n gold butts off after it swished through....? ;)

At Nov 21, 2007, 1:17:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

One word: Heart!
Luc was sleep walking all game. Glad to see you are coming back next year. If not, you better wake up.
(I don't want to see any more 3's from you, stay inside)
Love - You are the real deal. You are our nucleus and heart! How did we have 30+ wins without you? Unbelievable!! It shows just how good Howland is!!
Westbrook - lose the mohawk and focus on running a team...Nice game last night...
Shipp - you are looking great this year...
DC and Roll - rest up, we need ya
Happy Thanksgiving to all....

At Nov 21, 2007, 1:25:00 AM, Anonymous larryo said...

My tv is not gigantic hd plasma, but as soon it left Luc's hands it was good all the way. He's been working on his outside shooting to play the SF, and it's paying off. Micheal Roll will make that shot, also when he comes back. Not to mention Collison who shoots 50% from 3 land all day.
Michigan State has a great defense and the refs weren't calling anything inside, so it was a good defensive test, way different than the pac-10, more like a tournament game, sweet 16 or final 4.
Go Bruins. Hang another banner.

At Nov 21, 2007, 2:08:00 AM, Anonymous David said...

I'm encouraged to see Russell Westbrook step up defensively. Coming into the season I was most concerned with who would fill Afflalo's role of perimeter defensive stopper and the spearhead of the team defense. It's going to be vital to UCLA's success to have a physical defender who can guard the likes of OJ Mayo, Eric Gordon, and Derrick Rose.

At Nov 21, 2007, 2:45:00 AM, Anonymous mARK said...

Seems to me that UCLA has shown that its a team that can deal with adversity and still win...

At Nov 21, 2007, 2:45:00 AM, Anonymous Bruinau said...

That first post was most likely a Trojan who is still griped over the Mercer loss. He is simply predicting his own team's crappy season.

At Nov 21, 2007, 8:11:00 AM, Anonymous Damon said...

Great win.
To the doubter above, we'll see in tourney how good or bad UCLA and the Pac 10 really is.

At Nov 21, 2007, 12:06:00 PM, Anonymous Brad said...

Bruin Fans, Luc probably wouldn't be my choice for that shot! Would like to see him use the last ten minutes of this game as a springboard for the rest of this season. And you will not find a more physical low post team than Michigan St. if you can think of one name it! Westbrook- exciting steals and dunks Scary fouling three point shooters when were down by ten.

At Nov 22, 2007, 3:40:00 AM, Anonymous Eric said...

While watching the game, I was thinking that this is a great learning experience especially for freshmen Kevin Love. It will prove beneficial for future games, including the NCAA tournament. I was pleasantly surprised when they actually came all the way back in the last 31 seconds. I hope they learn just as much, if not more, in a win than in a loss!

At Nov 22, 2007, 3:40:00 AM, Anonymous Eric said...

While watching the game, I was thinking that this is a great learning experience especially for freshmen Kevin Love. It will prove beneficial for future games, including the NCAA tournament. I was pleasantly surprised when they actually came all the way back in the last 31 seconds. I hope they learn just as much, if not more, in a win than in a loss!


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