Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bruins Shoot Down Sun Devils For 25th Win

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

UCLA spent the first fifteen minutes of its game in Tempe figuring out how to score against Arizona State's 3-2 zone, while the Sun Devils just seemed satisfied to be hanging close with the No.4 team in the nation.

At the end, the Bruins (25-3, 13-2) pulled away for their 25th victory of the season and Arizona State (17-10, 7-8) was left to ponder whether they had let their chance for a big upset slip away from them.

Josh Shipp broke out of his prolonged shooting slump in a big way, playing perhaps his best all-around offensive game of the season. The red-shirt junior scored 17 points on 4 of 8 shooting from beyond the arc - breaking a 0 for 20 three-point shooting slump. Shipp also dished out a game-high 8 assists.

Guard Darren Collison was 5 of 6 from long distance and added 17 points, and freshman Kevin Love finished with his 17th double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

The Bruins came out flat to start the game and struggled to score against the Sun Devils' aggressive match-up zone scheme. However, Arizona State matched the Bruins' offensive futility by missing numerous open shots from the perimeter.

By the time the game clock had ticked down to the five minute mark in the first half, the score was tied at a Coors Field baseball score of 11-11, but then Darren Collison hit a three-pointer to start a 10-2 UCLA run and the team surged ahead, 21-13.

Collison scored 12 points in the first-half to pace the Bruins, including a three-point buzzer-beating shot to give UCLA a 29-18 halftime lead. Collison had stumbled while receiving a length of the court pass but was able to regain his balance to hit the long distance shot.

The late basket by Collison seemed to deflate the Sun Devils' confidence going into the locker room as the players and coaches all seemed to realize they had squandered away their chance to upset the nationally ranked Bruins.

UCLA looked to put the Sun Devils away quickly in the second half, going on a 8-2 run to go ahead by 17 points in the opening minutes of the half.

But then the Bruins started getting sloppy in the open court, wasting two easy transition baskets with blown slam dunk opportunities - of the hot dog variety. Coupled with some hot three-point shooting from Sun Devil Latvian guard Rihards Kuksiks , the Sun Devils narrowed the lead to 14 and began to gather some momentum as the home crowd began sensing a rally.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland wasn't about to let the game get any closer.

After a quick timeout and some icy stares from their coach, the Bruins came back onto the court and turned up the defensive pressure on the young Sun Devils, forcing turnovers and pushing the lead back to as large as 22 points. UCLA never looked back again.

Russell Westbrook added 14 points to the Bruins' final total and helped spark the second half defense with 4 steals. Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute blanketed Arizona State's leading scorer, James Harden, limiting the freshman to only 11 points on 4 of 10 shooting.

UCLA shot 49% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc, while holding Arizona State to just 40.9% field goal shooting. The Bruins also shot 12 of 13 from the foul line for 92.3%.

Led by Kevin Love, UCLA dominated Arizona State on the boards, 33 to 19.

The Bruins look for their fifth straight victory when they take on the Arizona Wildcats in a Sunday afternoon affair in Tucson. Arizona (17-11, 7-8) lost its Thursday night home game to USC, 70-58.

BBR Notes: UCLA will honor the Men's Basketball 1968 NCAA Champions at halftime of the California game on March 8. The 40th anniversary celebration of the title will include a ceremony honoring former players and legendary head coach John Wooden.

(photo credit: AP)



At Feb 28, 2008, 4:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey all... I think it's BOOGIE time! Big game however this weekend. With AZ losing to u$c, that will fire up AZ. Plus, the Wildcats are playing at home where they are VERY tough + they are currently 7-8 in conference. This is important because if they were to LOSE to the Bruins, they would be 7-9 with two games remaining. NO TEAM IN PAC-10 HISTORY HAS GONE TO THE BIG DANCE WITH A CONFERENCE RECORD OF 9-9. In other words, AZ NEEDS to win and will be fighting BIG TIME!

At Feb 28, 2008, 10:05:00 PM, Anonymous Bruin 2005 said...

I missed the game because I am on the east coast. Did Howland put in Mata and Love together at all...did it work out.

At Feb 28, 2008, 11:21:00 PM, Anonymous Jack said...

Mata and Love played together for a few minutes but it wasn't for a significant time but then ASU plays mostly 4 guards all the time. I think you'll see the Love-Mata pairing against the big teams like Cal and Furd.

At Feb 29, 2008, 1:14:00 AM, Anonymous Bee said...

I think this team has the great ability to withstand a team's best shot and find a way to grind out a win through solid execution. I just wish they would take the offensive a little more and just ram points down the other teams' throats (a la Duke/our earlier game vs. Arizona).
I definitely notice a difference in team D when Luc is on the floor. Russell is a little flashier, but Luc is really just as solid; time to give Luc his props. Luc just has a way with getting his hands on loose balls.
Also, when Josh hit his 2nd trey, I felt like the 'Bruins' were back. We need him to start connecting to really be a threat for the national championship. And if Collison hits like last night, I like our chances running the table and getting that #1 seed.
ps. Go sign Orton already!


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