Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bruins Get Defensive Against Cougars, Win 81-74

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score | Photo Gallery

Freshman Kevin Love scored a career-high 27 points and the Bruins hit their free-throws down the line to withstand a furious Cougars late rally to win 81-74 in a battle between two Pac-10 heavyweights.

Down 68-56 with just 1:37 minutes remaining in the game, Washington State hit seven consecutive three-point shots to pull within three points of the Bruins with 13 seconds remaining. But then Kevin Love hit his two free throws to put the game out of reach.

During the Cougars three-point fireworks display, the Bruins kept them at bay by making 9 of 10 free throws down he stretch.

Yet the final flurry of shots by the Cougars - really an act of desperation as a result of falling behind early, should not overshadow a game completely dominated by the Bruins.

Love had his best offensive game as a Bruin by scoring in the paint with a variety of post moves, including an improving jump hook shot, and he also stepped out to hit two three-point shots. He finished the game shooting 9-12 from the field and 7-10 from the line.,

He out-dueled Cougar's center Aron Baynes who had been touted as one of the most improved players in the conference. Love held Baynes to just 1-3 shooting and 8 points. The Bruin freshman center also hauled in a game-high 14 rebounds to lead his team to an astounding 33-18 rebound advantage over Washington State.

UCLA came out from the start with an intensity worthy of a game between No.4 and No.5 ranked opponents. The Bruins applied overwhelming defensive pressure on the ball that had the Cougars reeling and standing on their heels.

The Bruins raced out to an 11-1 lead after the first six minutes and didn't allow a Cougar field goal until the nine minute mark when Taylor Rochestie finally scored on a lay-up to make the score 16-6.

Offensively, UCLA did a good job executing their motion offense and finding Love inside or a cutter for any easy shot - the Bruins took only nine three-pointers in the entire game. They shot a sizzling 63.6% in the first-half and finished the game with 57.7% shooting.

Washington State faced getting blown out in the first half when UCLA went on a 10-2 run to push the score to 26-8 with five minutes remaining. But the veteran Cougars stayed resilient and battled back like a No.4 ranked team, outscoring the Bruins 16-9 to trail 35-22 at halftime. Taylor Rochestie capped off the first half scoring with a deep three-pointer to draw the Cougars closer.

In the second half UCLA extended the lead back to 18 points, but then Washington State's leading scorer Derrick Low, who had been held scoreless in the first half, began to heat up.

Low, a senior guard from Hawaii, scored 24 points in the half ,with most of the shots tightly contested - even Bruin defensive stalwart Russell Westbrook was helpless against the hot-shooting Low. As a result, the Cougars stayed within striking distance of UCLA which allowed them to scratch back with their final minute three-point theatrics.

Darren Collison battled back from a hip pointer injury to score 18 points on 5-8 shooting including 8-9 from the line. He had a key basket midway through the second half after the Cougars cut the lead to eight, Collison drove down the lane and made an acrobatic lay-up as he was fouled.

Josh Shipp added 14 points while teammate Russell Westbrook dropped in 12, including an acrobatic slam dunk to excite the Pauley crowd of 12,590.

With the win, UCLA (16-1, 4-0) sits atop the Pac-10 conference in first-place, one-half game ahead of the upstart Arizona State Sun Devils (13-2, 3-0).

The Bruins will now have a week of practice to prepare for a game against crosstown rivals USC next Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.

(photo credit: AP)



At Jan 12, 2008, 3:18:00 PM, Anonymous ChicagoBruin said...

This was the best game that I've seen U.C.L.A. play so far this year in spite of all of 3's at the end of the game.
The only downside to the game was that Mata-Real looks really dispireted. Must be tough to go from a starting center on a final four team to basically a scrub.

At Jan 12, 2008, 3:42:00 PM, Anonymous Buzz said...

What a freakn awesome game. The Bruins are going to be tough to beat when they play defense like they did in the 1st half.
Wazzus 3pt shooting at the end was a freak of way they duplicate that again anywhere.

At Jan 12, 2008, 6:11:00 PM, Anonymous D B said...

Yes I agree that I feel bad for Mata. I am sure he will tell you whatever is best for the team, but everyone is human and it definitly will be hard to be a bench player that doesnt play much after starting for two years.
Todays game he did not play very well with the limited time he had in there. He got beat on defense and turned the ball over and just did not seem focused.
Most likely he will not make the NBA, but I wish somehow he can be worked into the rotation more even though he is no longer a starter or lots of minute player. He is a senior and started two years fully and certainly deserves more than 7 minutes.
Sure it is team sucess first, but I am sure there are ways to get him about 18 minutes around.

At Jan 12, 2008, 11:06:00 PM, Anonymous jmagno said...

I think we are overreacting with mata-real
having one bad game.Yes he only played 7
minutes,but the game before he played 18
minutes and did howland made a
game time decision to play the players who
were making plays. i did not see the game,
but mata real is a senior he will be fine.

At Jan 13, 2008, 2:47:00 AM, Anonymous J said...

Is Matta Real fully healthy? Did he recover from the groin issue?
What abotu Collinson, is there any update about the seriousness of his hip injury?

At Jan 13, 2008, 3:20:00 AM, Anonymous clyde said...

Wow - not much to really say. Probably the best full game I've seen UCLA play this year. Despite the ending "let it rain" shots by low and others at the end - Bruins dominated all aspects of the game. I'm sure they will be tougher on their home court - so look forward to that matchup. You can see that there is a blueprint for success there. They are virtually a UCLA clone with just slightly less talented athletes. Hats off to them. Next up ... a scare game vs. USC who certainly are talented and rival games like this you can never predict.

At Jan 13, 2008, 4:44:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

Collison's play against WSU speaks for itself. He scored 18 points including a key driving layup in the second half. A gutty performance from a kid still sore from his injury.
As for Mata, his decreased playing time is a reflection of Love's improved play on both offense and defense. Mata will get his chance as opportunities arise, but these guys are all competitors and team-first players. Don't feel bad for them, they all understand the best guy in practice will get the minutes.

At Jan 13, 2008, 5:51:00 AM, Anonymous BruinsWin! said...

I think Mata's reduced playing time was a factor of how much we NEEDED Love in this game. He was playing phenomenally well having his best game as a Bruin so far. His firts half was huge. Howland would be crazy to sit him for long. Love was fired up for this game and it showed. Coach has gotta go with the hot player.
Same deal with giving Westbrook a ton of minutes. The guy is on fire right now.

At Jan 13, 2008, 6:38:00 AM, Anonymous Brad said...

No way can Love block a shot at the top of the square. But he did it anyway! Didn't see that coming.

At Jan 13, 2008, 8:42:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Our Bruins put on a clinic for 35 minutes. We will be tough to beat when we play like that. I noticed Howland didn't have any timeouts at the end of the game to stop the barrage of 3's....He has done this before (used all his timeouts a little early). Hopefully, it won't cost us games (like Texas at the end), in the future. My chant for the Washington State fans was warm up the bus....
Thanks BBR!!!

At Jan 13, 2008, 8:45:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

One more thing: Bring on SUC
If we play like we did against WSU - UCLA by 15. If we don't UCLA by 14 lol.
Dominating performances like that WSU game will bring us another banner. We have the edge on UNC because we play defense.
Have a good week everybody!!

At Jan 13, 2008, 11:25:00 AM, Anonymous fvelas said...

I think some of the posts are bit short sighted and have missed the big picture. Mata is hugh part why the Bruins are tough and play great D. His attitude and tough play were exactly what Howland was looking for and he has delivered since day one. He has also improved every year. He like Westbrook were not heavily recruited but Howland saw then what the rest of have seen they are special players. So don't say he is a scrub after just one game. He like every other guy on this team will at one point this season put the team on their shoulders to get a win. The season is long and injuries and game situations will require all of them to step up. Like the last post said Mata will be fine.

At Jan 13, 2008, 1:59:00 PM, Anonymous dee said...

mata is probably my fav bruin before westbrook's chains went loose... mata is the definition of hardworking blue collar player, how many times have u guys seen him save the ball from out of bounds, run the lengths of the court to try and get a offensive rebound and have a put back! many times, and for most players they would have stopped running after they save the ball because he won't be getting the dunk on the fast break... with mata's attitude, for sure he will be needed for big minutes down the stretch esp against big teams, post oriented teams (wash st is a perimeter oriented team). another reason for mata's drop in minutes was to get keefe comfortable with more minutes...
don't diss keefe for not producing offensively, in the first half he was setting up so many picks to free up our players both in the post and the perimeter, in no way he's a offensive liability he looks very comfortable hitting from down low to about 18 feet... only thing is we don't have enough basketballs to feed him esp with so many offensive weapons
and with that game... we can be sure that we'll be in another final 4, and love will be a lottery pick... (i'd love for Love to stay for 4 years, but if spencer hawes can be a lottery pick no way Love can't be pick higher)

At Jan 13, 2008, 6:27:00 PM, Anonymous Bee said...

BBR, any insight into how Stanback is progressing? It would be nice to have the possibility of a deeper rotation, if we have to face Memphis or Duke in the tourney.

At Jan 14, 2008, 12:56:00 AM, Anonymous Bruin Basketball Report said...

Stanback is developing as well as expected considering the limited minutes he's getting. Obviously , he'll need more playing time if he is to develop his game and confidence, in addition he needs to continue to work out and get stronger. Remember after last season both Westbrook and Keefe identified their need to work-out, lift weights to get stronger over the offseason as the key to improving their game.
With James Keefe's comfort level and play progressing with each contest, it allows Luc to play even more minutes at the three. Unless there is an injury or early foul trouble, Stanback will continue to play the limited minutes as the 9th player off the bench. Don't see Howland deviating from his 8-man rotation regardless the opponent the Bruins are playing

At Jan 14, 2008, 2:28:00 AM, Anonymous willis said...

Some thoughts about Mata-Real. He did play poorly Saturday, but he is very important to this team and he will produce when he's really needed. I would like to see Howland use Mata-Real and Love on the court at the same time a bit. I like the idea of bringing Westbrook off the bench, a al John Havlicek, which gives Aboya the 5th starter slot. However, what about Mata-Real in this slot? I think Mata would do better as a starter and Aboya would do better off the bench. With Aboya's energy off the bench, added to Westbrook's, that would be amazing. What do you think? Can Love and Mata-Real be on the court at the same time, or is Lorenzo's role strictly as a back up to Love? I think Mata-Real can really only play the 5, but I think Love could play the 4 since he can play away from the basket.

At Jan 14, 2008, 3:47:00 PM, Anonymous dee said...

personally i like mata coming off the bench more than having aboya come off the bench. Mata provides more stability for the 2nd unit than aboya would, and because of aboya's tedency to be overly agressive and pick up quick fouls, that would defeat the purpose of the 2nd unit which is to allow the 1st unit to have rest, or to spot for them when they are in foul trouble... at least that's what i think


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