Love Carries Bruins To Sweet 16
By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report
Say all you want about UCLA's play the past few weeks. One thing people can all agree upon?
They just know how to win!
Kevin Love scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help UCLA rally from a ten point second-half deficit to beat a tough Texas A&M team, 53-49, and advance to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament
After allowing 56% field goal shooting in the opening half, the UCLA defense clamped down in the second half as the Bruins slowly chipped away at the Aggies big lead.
Love's 10 foot fadeaway jumper with three minutes remaining tied the game at 45-45. Then with 1:37 left, Love got the ball again on the left side and hit a step back 12 foot shot to put the Bruins ahead 47-45.
Darren Collison scored on two tough lay-ups to keep the Bruins ahead. Then with 8 seconds remaining and the Bruins still up by just two, Texas A&M guard Donald Sloan drove down the lane but his shot was blocked by Josh Shipp who got the ball to Russell Westbrook for a thunderous dunk to end the game.
"That was vintage Darren Collison," Howland said. "Driving down the lane, going right, high off the glass, kissing it in. The second one was really a blessing because that thing kind of rolled in had for us. And, believe me, I'm very thankful."
Collison scored 21 points and almost single-handedly kept the Bruins in the contest with his key three-point shots. He finished 5 of 8 from beyond the arc.
"Once the time clock goes zero, zero, we'll stop playing," Collison said. "We've been through that all season. We knew what we had to do; we knew who was going to win, and all the coaches said we just had to do the right things to win the game."
UCLA struggled offensively, especially in the first half, against a very physical Texas A&M defense. Three Bruin starters, Josh Shipp, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Russell Westbrook shot a cominbed 4 of 18 for a mere 9 points. Collison and Love accounted for 40 of UCLA's 53 points or 75% of the team's offensive output.
But Howland praised the three starters for their other contributions in the game.
"It was Josh's defensive play at the end of the game," Howland said. "Russell gets a dunk. That's one of his three baskets. Josh made the play down the stretch, and he made a couple of rebounds. Luc did not play well today, and you could tell from a week off, from not playing, especially in a game, it hurts you. But he steps up and makes big rebounds down the stretch."
Moreover, UCLA Coach Ben Howland shortened his bench considerably in this game with reserves Alfred Aboya, James Keefe, and Lorenzo Mata-Real combining for just 20 minutes of action. The bench provided just 4 points and 1 rebound.
While Texas A&M's defense held the Bruins down in the first half, its offense was effective in breaking down the Bruin defense off the dribble drive. Aggies guard Donald Sloan repeatedly got into the paint for easy scores, he finished with 12 points.
In the second half, the Bruins stopped doubling and trapping the Aggies and went straight up against them, and it proved successful as they held the Aggies to just 30.8% shooting in the half.
Kevin Love had a career-high 7 blocks in the game which helped to key the Bruins' defensive turnaround in the second half.
"That was reminiscent of a lot of games we seem to be in lately, where we're having to make dramatic comebacks in the last few minutes," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "But the one thing that I love about our team is that they know in their heart they're always going to win the game. They're going to find a way."
UCLA advances to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year under Coach Ben Howland. They will play the winner of the game between No.12 seed Western Kentucky and No.13 seed University of San Diego.
The West Region Sweet 16 games will be played in Phoenix, Arizona.
(photo credit: AP)
Labels: Game Summaries