Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bruins Blitz Beavers In 47 Point Blowout

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

In the days following their loss to Stanford in which UCLA faded in the second-half after building a big early lead, Bruin players talked about the need to develop a "killer instinct", an edge to put teams away.

On Saturday, the Oregon State Beavers may have been the first casualties of UCLA's new found attitude.

Before an appreciative home crowd of 11,095, the Bruins swamped the Beavers, 82-35, in which fifteen UCLA players saw action and no starter played more than 24 minutes.

“We want to come out and play as hard as we can every night, no matter
who the opponent is,”  UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said. “It shows a maturing level on our

On this day at least, the over-matched Beavers had no business being on the same court as the Bruins.  The Beavers could only muster up a season-low 18 points before intermission on a dreadful 34% shooting, while the Bruins shot a blistering 70% to go into halftime with a 30 point lead, 48-18.

The Bruins started off the game with high intensity and an eagerness to put this game away early, they went on a 15-5 blitz to begin the game highlighted by two Josh Shipp dunks off steals.

UCLA's pressure defense smothered the Beavers, forcing them into 21 turnovers. 

Darren Collison rebounded from a poor game between the two clubs in January with a stellar defensive performance against Oregon State's Josh Tarver.  The Beaver point-guard finished with just 4 points and committed 7 turnovers under the defensive pressure applied by Collison.

“We wanted to come out with the same intensity as we did against
Oregon (on Thursday),” said Collison, “If we want to get where we want to
go, we got to have games like we did today.”

The UCLA starters made 22 of 29 shots for 76% in the game.  Arron Afflalo scored a team-high 16 points on 7-9 shooting and Darren Collison added 8 points and dished out 10 assists.

Collison wasn't the only Bruin sharing the ball, as the team combined for a total of 24 assists in the game.  Twelve UCLA players had at least one assist.

Even center Lorenzo Mata got into the act, at one point acting like a point guard, leading a fast-break down court and threading the needle with a pass to an open Darren Collison for a lay-up.

“I love all the unselfishness,” Howland said. “That’s fun to see.”

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was perfect from the field going 6-6 in the game.  Coupled with his perfect shooting on Thursday against Oregon, Mbah a Moute has hit 12 consecutive baskets.  He also added a team-high 7 rebounds on Saturday.

In the second-half it was more of the same.  After the Bruins went on a 11-2 run to start the half, Howland decided to clear the floor of his starters and give his reserves a chance to gain some invaluable game experience.

Little used Nikola Dragovic logged his most time as a Bruin, twelve minutes, and made the most of it.  The freshman from Serbia was sure and confident with his outside shot, scoring 8 points on 3-6 shooting including two three-pointers.  He also grabbed 6 rebounds and held his own defensively against OSU's leading scorer Marcel Jones.   

"I was working hard and waiting for my chance," said Dragovic after the game.

Freshman guard Russell Westbrook tied his season-high scoring 11 points on 4-6 shooting including a couple of acrobatic shots around the rim.  He helped the Bruin reserves outscore the Beaver starters, who remained in the game until the end - perhaps a punishment by Beaver Coach Jay John, by ten points.

Even walk-ons Matt Lee, Joey Ellis, DeAndre Robinson, and Mustafa Abdul-Hamid got into the act, exciting the Pauley crowd with some spirited play including two nifty assists by Lee and Ellis to end the game.

"You got to see guys have the opportunity to score," Collison said.
"The players on the bench are the ones who get us better every day."

The Bruins take Sunday off to rest and will resume practice on Monday.  UCLA hosts crosstown rival USC on Wednesday night in a contest to determine first-place in the Pac-10.   The Trojans defeated Oregon, 71-68, Saturday and are tied with Washington State, just one game behind UCLA in the conference race.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Friday, February 02, 2007

UCLA vs. Oregon St. - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The first-place UCLA Bruins take on the Oregon State Beavers in a Saturday afternoon match-up at Pauley Pavilion.

The struggling Beavers (9-14, 1-9) are next to last in the Pac-10 conference and have lost five straight games.  On Thursday night, they were thumped by USC, 73-56.

Oregon State Head Coach John Jay, frustrated with the progress of his team and in search of more depth, has begun experimenting with different line-ups and has started playing younger players.

Against USC, Jay benched second-leading scorer, Sasa Cuic, in favor of freshman Seth Tarver. Cuic played only 16 minutes scoring just six points in the contest.

Guard Wesley Washington sat out the game against USC due to a sore wrist which may require surgery and will probably not play against UCLA. Sophomore Jack McGillis will start in his place.

The Beavers are just not getting it done on either end of the court.  In conference play, they are averaging just 62.9 points (9th) while giving up 75.9 points (9th) a game, resulting in a Pac-10 worst -12.9 scoring margin. 

Oregon State is shooting just 43.2% (9th) from the field and a miserable 51.1% (10th) from the free throw line.

In the first meeting between the two clubs in Corvallis, the Bruins started off slowly, struggling against the Beavers zone defense and fall behind early before pulling away in the second-half for a 71-56 victory.  Josh Shipp led all scorers with 18 points.

Oregon State Probable Starter

Marcel JonesF6-8215Jr.2330.315.95.91.3
Sasa CuicF6-10253Jr.2027.712.93.21.0
Josh TarverG6-3175Fr.2332.
Kyle JeffersC6-9258Sr.2325.
Jack McGillisG-F6-6210So.2319.

Marcel Jones had 13 points in the last game against UCLA.  In the first-half, Coach Ben Howland assigned Arron Afflalo to guard him, but Jones used his size advantage and got Afflalo into early foul trouble which hurt the Bruin offense who were without their leading scorer for most of the half..  Afflalo will likely again get the defensive call against Jones especially if Cuic starts at the other forward spot.

Sasa Cuic will likely get the start on Saturday to help the Beavers match-up better against the Bruin front line. Cuic has had a difficult year on and off the court.  Earlier in the season, he missed games due to disciplinary reasons and his numbers are way down from his sophomore season. If Oregon State is to even have a remote chance in the game, Cuic needs to show up to play. 

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who recorded his first double-double in over a month, will get the assignment against Cuic.  If Seth Tarver plays in place of Cuic, then Mbah a Moute would likely switch over to Marcel Jones with Afflalo moving over to guard Tarver.

Freshman point-guard Josh Tarver has been the lone bright spots for Oregon State this season.  Although he has not shot particularly well from the field, he has held his own against  a collection of fine Pac-10 guards.

In Corvallis, Tarver played UCLA's Darren Collison to a draw, at times bothering the Bruin point-guard with his defensive pressure and surprising quickness.  The Beavers' strategy of applying full-court pressure against Collison seemed to take him out of his rhythm.  It will be interesting how Collison responds in the rematch.

Kyle Jeffers, the only senior scholarship player on the team, is a solid and steady interior player and is the team's lone shot-blocker.  He is shooting 56% from the field.

Sophomore Jack McGillis has steadily earned more playing time with each game.  A tough wing player with a good nose for the ball, the Beavers seem to play better when he's on the court.  McGillis is shooting 39% from three-point distance.

This UCLA basketball team needs to show it can put away an inferior opponent away early and decisively.  After the Stanford game, players were talking about the importance of having a killer instinct and putting away opponents for good.  The Bruins can start walking the talk on Saturday against the Beavers.

Just as importantly, if UCLA can put Oregon State away early, it will allow them to give reserves, James Keefe and Russell Westbrook, some extra playing time on the floor.  Keefe played just five minutes against Oregon while Westbrook scored two points in his four minutes.  With tournament time just around the corner, UCLA will need both freshmen playing confidently and effectively in the rotation.

1/7 UCLA vs. Oregon St - Game Preview
1/9 Bruins Outlast Beavers, 71-56

(photo credit: OSU Athletics)


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mbah a Moute's Double-Double Sinks Ducks

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute recorded a double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to help UCLA (19-2, 8-2) regain sole possession of first-place in the Pac-10 with a 69-57 victory over the Oregon Ducks before an electric crowd of 12,113 at Pauley Pavilion.

"I thought his performance was great," said teammate Darren Collison. "You can see that from Luc pretty much every game. He's not always the high scorer, but he does little things.

"Look at his line," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said, reading off each category. "And he played great defense. He really played with a lot of passion."

Mbah a Moute was perfect from the field shooting 6-6 while recording four blocks and four steals with most of them coming against Oregon's Malik Hairston.

Hampered by injuries all season, Hairston is not the same player who competed against UCLA last season.  Still not in top shape or condition, Hairston was a step slow and never a factor in the game.

Throughout the contest the Bruin defense was magnificent, holding the Ducks to only 36.% shooting from the field. 

Oregon's Aaron Brooks, who torched UCLA for 31 points in the first meeting, was held to 14 points on just 5-13 shooting by Arron Afflalo and a UCLA team defense that rotated to help with Brooks and frustrate him most of the night. 

In their victory over the Bruins in Eugene, Oregon's match-up zone was extremely effective against UCLA, and most everyone expected to see the zone often in this game.  However, for some  inexplicable reason, Duck's coach Ernie Kent had his team defend man-to-man and did not employ a zone until six minutes remained in the half.  By this time, UCLA had already gone on a 10-0 run to open up a 15 point margin over Oregon.

With Oregon in a match-up zone for the rest of the first-half, UCLA's offense sputtered, scoring just four points the rest of the half as the Ducks cut the Bruin's lead to just nine points before intermission.

To begin the second-half, oddly enough Kent chose to defend UCLA man-to-man, and the Bruins again sliced up the Oregon defense by going on a 10-2 run to build a 17 point margin. 

With a big lead in hand, UCLA started playing conservatively, losing some offensive intensity.  At the same time, Oregon started pressing full-court and cut the UCLA lead to nine-points with just over seven minutes remaining.  But the Ducks were unable to get any closer as they drop into a three-way second-place tie in the Pac-10 with a 7-3 conference record and 19-3 overall.

"We didn't want to happen what happened to us against Stanford (second-half collapse)," Darren Collison said. "We huddled up and talked about it. We don't want that to ever happen again."

Collison played a solid game scoring 12 points and handing out 4 assists while committing just two turnovers in a team-high 34 minutes.  Josh Shipp added 11 points and 3 rebounds.

UCLA shot 57.1% from the field and an identical 57.1% from three-point distance against Oregon.

In addition to his solid defense on Brooks, Afflalo tossed in a team-high 17 points on 6-12 shooting including 4-6 from beyond the arc.

"We avenged our first loss of the season," Afflalo said. "This game was very important to us. We don't want to lose to anybody twice."

The Oregon State Beavers visit Pauley Pavilion to meet the Bruins on Saturday afternoon.  The Beavers were routed by the Trojans, 73-56, at the Galen Center on Thursday.

(photo credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)


Collison Named Finalist For Bob Cousy Award

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA's sophomore Darren Collison has been named a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, an honor presented annually to the nation's top collegiate point-guard.   

Finalists were announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in conjunction with The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc, earlier today.

After the departure last summer of Jordan Farmar to the NBA, Collison was anointed the starting point-guard of the Bruins this season.  He has performed well on both ends of the court, averaging 13.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 2.4 steals while shooting 52,4% from the field including 50% on three-pointers.

"Collison is the key to their whole ballclub," Arizona Head coach Lute Olson said. "He just puts a lot of pressure defensively, gets a lot of steals, puts a lot of pressure on the defense to keep him out of the lane, and he's very, very quick."

Other award finalists include; Mustafa Shakur (Arizona), Dominic James (Marquette), Ronald Steele (Alabama), and Taurean Green (Florida). 

One glaring omission from the finalist list is Aaron Brooks (Oregon).



Bobby Brown
Cal State Fullerton
Darren Collison
Levance Fields
Taurean Green
Dominic James
Jared Jordan
Acie Law
Texas A&M
Ty Lawson
North Carolina
Russell Robinson
Ramon Sessions
Sean Singletary
Mustafa Shakur
Ronald Steele



Anthony Atkinson
Barton College
Zach Whiting
Chaminade University



Andrew Olson   
Amherst College
David Arsenault
Grinnell College

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Afflalo Named to Wooden Midseason Top 30 Candidates

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA's junior guard Arron has been named to the Wooden Award Midseason All-American Team.

Composed of the top 30 players who will compete for this season's player of the year award, the midseason list is based on individual player performance and team records during the first half of the season.

Afflalo is averaging 17.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists a game  A tenacious player, the former Centennial HS star is considered one of the top defensive players in the nation, and one of the main reasons why UCLA is tied for first in the Pac-10 and ranked No.5 in the nation.

The Pac-10 is represented by three players.  In addition to Afflalo, Aaron Brooks (Oregon) and Marcus Williams (Arizona) are on the midseason list.

Other notables include; Glen Davis (LSU), Nick Fazekas (Nevada), and Taurean Green (Florida) all of whom were considered for the award last season.  Green's teammates Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer also made the list.

Three freshmen made the list; Kevin Durant (Texas), Greg Oden (Ohio St.), and Brandan Wright (Kansas)

List of Top 30 Candidates

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

UCLA vs. Oregon - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The No.5 UCLA Bruins host the No.9 Oregon Ducks in a battle between two first-place Pac-10 heavyweights at Pauley Pavilion Thursday night.  The Bruins return home after splitting a pair of road games in the Bay area last week.

Oregon (19-2, 7-2) lost to Washington last week but was playing without starting point-guard Aaron Brooks who was serving the last of a two-game suspension he was levied when he struck Washington's Ryan Appleby last season in the Pac-10 tournament.

On Saturday the Ducks defeated No.18 Washington State in Pullman, 77-74.  Brooks scored 31 points against the Cougars in his return to the line-up.

In the first match-up at Eugene, UCLA suffered its first loss of the season when senior point-guard Aaron Brooks scored 25 points including the game-winner with only thirteen seconds remaining in the game to lead Oregon to an upset win over then top-ranked UCLA, 68-66.

In the game, the Ducks utilized an aggressive match-up zone limiting the Bruins to just 36% shooting in the first-half.   The Bruin offense struggled attacking the zone while committing 17 turnovers in the game.

Oregon Probable Starters

Aaron BrooksG6'0165Sr.1936.619.14.14.5
Bryce TaylorG6'5205Jr.2133.515.85.12.0
Tajuan PorterG5'6160Fr.1930.413.11.52.5
Malik HairstonG6'6200Jr.1129.913.06.12.4
Maarty LeunenF6'9215Jr.2133.

In the first game, junior Malik Hairston, one of Oregon's best players, did not play due to injury but has since come back to make Oregon an even more dangerous club with his rebounding, especially on the offensive end, and tenacity.  Hairston has scored in double-figures in five of his last six games since returning to the line-up.

UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is still recovering from the effects of a strained knee and will have his job cut out trying to guard and block out the athletic Hairston. 

After the last game in Oregon, UCLA Coach Ben Howland stated he wished that he had guarded Aaron Brooks more with Arron Afflalo.  Although both Afflalo and Collison will likely see time against Brooks on Thursday night, it will be Afflalo's primary responsibility to slow down the speedy Oregon point-guard who is a legitimate Pac-10 player of the year candidate.

Maarty Leunen hurt the Bruins with 18 and 7 rebounds especially on high pick-in-rolls where the Bruin centers, specifically Lorenzo Mata, were too slow in recovering to guard Leunen who hit from three-point distance as well as taking it inside to the Bruin big men.

Both Bryce Taylor and Tajuan Porter were also effective the last time around, scoring 11 and 9 points respectively against the Bruins.

In order for UCLA (18-2, 7-2) to win against Oregon on Thursday, they will need to solve the Duck's match-up zone by attacking it aggressively by quickly hitting the gaps and seams of the zone.

UCLA has utilized a four-guard alignment in recent games to combat zone defenses to varying degrees of success.  Against the Ducks, the Bruin strategy will meet its biggest challenge since Oregon has extremely quick and athletic players and play one of the best zone defenses in the nation.

Defensively, the Bruins will need to do a much better job in stopping dribble-penetration by the Ducks.  Aaron Brooks, as well as Bryce Taylor,  sliced through the UCLA perimeter defense at will in the January 5th contest, creating easy offensive opportunities.

1/5/2007: UCLA vs. Oregon - Game Preview
1/6/2007: UCLA Falls From Unbeaten, Lose To Oregon

(photo credit Oregon Athletics)


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (1/29)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Chace Stanback,  Fairfax: Recorded 29 points and 10
rebounds as the host Lions, ranked No. 5 by The Times, defeated Western
League foe L.A. Hamilton, 82-37. LA Times 1/23

Senior post Kevin Love got off to a slow start as Lakeridge’s double
and, sometimes, triple-team coverage forced him to shoot contested
jumpers in the early going....For the game, Love had 29 points and 18 rebounds and Marr added 12 points to the effort.  Lake Oswego Review 1/25

Vaccaro closes ABCD camp as he eyes hoops academy: "Look at the talent we had at ABCD. O.J. Mayo, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love. Kids crossed over their sneaker affiliations. Sports Illustrated 1/26

Leading the way was Lake Oswego’s 6-foot-10
center, Kevin Love, who scored 39 points, including 21 in the fourth
quarter. He hit 16 of 22 shots and seven of them came on dunks. Love
also had 20 rebounds, two blocked shots, two steals and two assists. It wasn’t just a dominant performance by Love that
spelled the difference, though. The Lakers (5-0 Three Rivers League,
14-1 overall) also benefited from some clutch outside shooting by
guards Ernie Spada, Taylor Marr and Landon Ainge. Lake Oswego Review 1/26

Kevin Love
has received more accolades than any 18-year-old has the right to for his play on the basketball court. But his coach at Lake Oswego High noticed something more important about the UCLA-bound, 6-10 prodigy after a recent game against Clackamas. Portland Tribune 1/26

Chace Stanback, Fairfax: Had 39 points, including four
three-pointers and 13 rebounds, as the visiting Lions, ranked No. 5 by
The Times, defeated L.A. University, 92-55, in Western League
competition. LA Times 1/27


Demar Derozan, Compton: Tallied 26 points and scored
the game-winning basket on a fastbreak dunk with eight seconds left as
the host Tarbabes, ranked No. 9 by The Times, defeated No. 20 Long
Beach Jordan, 77-76, in Moore League play. LA Times 1/23

Not only were the Pioneers exposed in their upset loss to La Mirada
last week, but they were forced to play without 6-foot-10 center
Renardo Sidney
, who was suspended for three Suburban League games this
week for what Coach Loren Grover called "a team situation." Sidney, the second-ranked sophomore in the nation by,
watched from the bench as Malik Story and James Harden picked up the
slack on offense in a 66-62 victory over the visiting Monsoons. LA Times 1/23

Grover said he and the parents of sophomore center Renardo Sidney
agreed upon the decision to hold him out of the three league games this
week as punishment for a "team-related issue" (supposedly related to
his reaction after being taken out of the game during the league
contest with Norwalk Friday night). "He's fine and there is no problem at school, he's still
going to classes and he'll be on our bench this week," Grover added.
"He'll be ready to play Saturday." Press-Telegram 1/23

Luke Babbitt of Reno, Nev., one of the three junior forwards Ohio State
is offering its last scholarship for 2008, will visit campus with his
parents this weekend and take in the spectacle against Michigan State.
Babbitt grew up in Cincinnati before moving while in elementary school
and has grandparents and other relatives living in Chillicothe and
Findlay. Babbitt’s other finalists are UCLA, Arizona, Nevada and
Gonzaga. He said Matta and assistant coaches John Groce and Dan Peters
have traveled as far as Reno, Los Angeles and Myrtle Beach, S.C., the
past six weeks to scout him. Buckeye Xtra 1/23

Jrue Holiday,  Campbell Hall: Led the visiting Vikings,
ranked No. 3 by The Times, with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight
assists in their 87-45 victory over Olympic League foe Brentwood.
Campbell Hall trailed, 34-33, at halftime, but opened the second half
with a 22-0 run to pull away. LA Times 1/24

Galena jumped out to a 17-0 lead after four minutes and cruised to a 68-42 win over Manogue....He also said he liked the way his team worked for
easy shots. Luke Babbitt scored 27 points, J.D. Peters had 14 points
and Tristan Hill added 12 points. Nevada Appeal 1/24

#3 Mitty 74, St. Francis 65: Drew Gordon scored 25 points and Mitty (14-4,
7-1 WCAL) overcame a 36-26 deficit at the half in a game that had 61 fouls and
78 free-throw attempts. San Francisco Chronicle 1/25

Compton 66, Cabrillo 55: Demar DeRozan scored 25 points and Edgar Garibay added 19 for the first-place Tarbabes in Moore League play. Press-Telegram 1/26

Jrue Holiday, Campbell Hall: Junior guard scored 28 points as the
Vikings, ranked No. 3 by The Times, defeated San Diego St. Augustine,
87-51, in intersectional play at Carlsbad. LA Times 1/27

Riordan (18-2, 7-2), like many teams, collapsed on the 6-9 Drew Gordon in
the paint, which opened up space for Chiverton and teammates. Gordon had seven blocks, 10 points and 10 rebounds. He also held Riordan's Jorge Camacho to three points. Mercury News 1/28

(photo credit: Vern Uyetake / The Lake Oswego Review)


Bruins Let Game Slip Away In Second at Stanford

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Uninspired play by UCLA on both ends of the court coupled with hot Stanford shooting in the second half allowed the Cardinal to rally for a 75-68 upset victory over No.2/No.3 UCLA at Maples Pavilion on Sunday.

UCLA led by 17 points with less than a minute left before intermission but then gave up five straight points to bit Stanford players, Kevin Brown and Carl Weatherby, to close the quarter with just a 12 points lead, 37-25.

The Bruins had built their early lead with precision half-court execution on the offensive end and a suffocating perimeter defense which created eight Stanford turnovers in the half for easy transition baskets.

But it all changed In the second-half when Stanford's Anthony Good and Lawrence Hill came out smoking to bring Stanford back and tie the game at 51-51 with 8:30 left as the Stanford home crowd helped to fuel the rally.

In the meantime, the Bruin front line of Lorenzo Mata, Alfred Aboya, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute piled up early fouls in the half and were saddled on the bench each with four fouls.  Their absence on the court appeared to take the Bruins out of their game.  UCLA players started going one-on-one rather than run their normal sets as the offense began to stagnate.

By the time Anthony Goods hit his third three-pointer of the half with 2:35, Stanford held a commanding 68-59 lead and the Bruins were heading towards just their second defeat in twenty games this season.

Arron Afflalo had 22 points and Darren Collison 17, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Bruin's uninspired second-half play.

UCLA shot 42.9% from the field and 31% from three point distance while Stanford shot 46% and a sizzling 50% from beyond the arc. 

However the greatest imbalance between the two teams occurred at the free-throw line where Stanford shot 33 free-throws making 22 for 67% while UCLA only shot 15 making 9 for 60%.

UCLA is now 18-2 overall and tied for first place in the Pac-10 conference with Oregon at 7-2.

(photo credit: AP)