Friday, March 14, 2008

UCLA vs. Stanford - Pac-10 Tourney Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Top seed UCLA (30-3) ends the Pac-10 season the way it started when it faces No.2 seed Stanford (26-6) in the Pac-10 Tournament championship game.  The Bruins played the Cardinal in the first game of the Pac-10 conference season back on January 3.

Stanford earned its chance to play in the championship game by beating Washington State Friday night, 75-68.  Sophomore Brook Lopez scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Lawrence Hill added 14 off the bench.  The game was close throughout but Stanford made its free throws down the stretch and the Lopez twin brother were just too much to overcome.  Robin Lopez finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds.

UCLA swept Stanford during conference play including a controversial overtime decision at Pauley Pavilion last Thursday.   With time running out in regulation and the Bruins down by two, Darren Collison drove to the basket and was fouled by Stanford's Lawrence Hill. 

Many criticized the call, feeling there was no foul committed on the play.  Collison went on to make both free throws to send the game into overtime where UCLA dominated outscoring Stanford 14-4 to win the game, 77-67.

The Bruins will be playing without forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who suffered a severe sprained ankle in the first half of the USC contest.  X-rays taken were negative. With the NCAA tournament starting in a week, the Bruins hope to have him back by the first game.

Mbah a Moute will be sorely missed against Stanford's big front line.  He recorded a double-double, 10 points and 11 rebounds last Thursday against them.  His defense, especially off the double in the low post will be missed.  Alfred Aboya will likely get the start at power forward spot with James Keefe backing him up.  Keefe played a spirited game against USC and was a big contributor in the win - the Bruins will need the same effort.  Lorenzo Mata-Real should also see major minutes on the floor.

Stanford dominated for most of the game at Pauley last Thursday.  The Lopez twins controlled the paint, changing a number of shot attempts by the Bruins who ventured in.  UCLA stepped up its defensive pressure in the second half to rally and set up Collison's late game free throws.

UCLA will need to bring the same defensive pressure, especially on the perimeter, to prevent Stanford from setting up offensively and to make it hard for the guards to make a pass into the post.  While Stanford is big inside, the Bruins have a decided advantage at the guard spots with both Collison and Westbrook.

Freshman Kevin Love held his own against the Lopez twins in the last game, recording 17 points and 10 rebounds, but he will need either Aboya, Keefe, or Mata-Real to step up big without Mbah a Moute next to him on the baseline.

After having one of their best shooting games against California on Wednesday, the Bruins returned on Thursday against USC with one of their worst.  UCLA shot just 39.2% from the field and a miserable 16.7% on three-pointers.  The Bruins can ill afford to shoot as bad against Stanford.

Its unlikely the outcome of the championship game will have any impact UCLA's seeding with the NCAA tournament selection committee.  At this point, the Bruins will likely receive the No.1 seed in the West from the committee.

Stanford Roster and Statistics

*Brook LopezF18.98.51.4
*Anthony GoodsG10.52.01.7
*Robin LopezC10.05.50.6
*Lawrence HillF8.85.01.1
*Mitch JohnsonG6.84.34.7
Taj FingerF5.94.30.5
Fred WashingtonF4.64.02.3
Landry FieldsG3.92.11.0
Kenny BrownG3.81.30.6
Drew ShillerG3.50.90.7
Peter ProwittC1.51.00.4
Josh OwensF1.41.60.3

Game Information
Pac-10 Tournament Championship Game
No.1 seed UCLA vs No.2 seed Stanford
Time: 3:00PM PT
Place: Staples Center
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: Stanford Athletics)



At Mar 14, 2008, 5:39:00 PM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

This Pac 10 tny sucks...we have NOTHING TO GAIN, ONLY SOMETHIN TO LOSE...(M Bah ankle) bullS***
Howland not Trent for Coach of the Year!
we won the Pac 10 by THREE games....and we were hurt for the entire season
what a waste..we have to play in this tny....absolute bull s***
Bruin Fans, let's watch Howland out-coach the Pac-10 Coach of the Year on a neutral Court...Even w/o our Prince...well, Stanford, we r gonna smoke you not like a tree, but a scrub...bring it wusses....
Love to all....Q's was packed!!!

At Mar 14, 2008, 8:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we feared, happened. An injury in a worthless game. DANG. I would seriously play just our second team against Stanford. We already locked up the #1 seed and have proven we own Stanford (winning both the regular season games). Nothing more to prove or gain so let's keep our guys healthy and ready for the games that DO matter... in the BIG DANCE. GO BRUINS!

At Mar 14, 2008, 10:50:00 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

We play basketball games to win not get hurt, no matter what game we play. I didn't like the Pac-10 tournament either. However, being there on Thursday, on the Boss' invite was perfect. More importantly, to see the Bruins tear apart Cal and settle business with them, quiet rumors of "just getting lucky" or "having the refs help us out" and solidify the #1 seed across the nation was worth our time...
Injuries are a part of the game, as are losses. Sports is all about losing, 99% of all teams end their season with a loss. The journey this year was tougher than others because expectations were high and we just kept trying to live up to them all year long. Last couple years, as overachievers, was much more enjoyable. Today let's play well, no injuries and move forward toward our destiny as National Champions--but never forget to enjoy the journey--no matter if we win or lose...GO BRUINS!!

At Mar 15, 2008, 4:13:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

well written Alex!
Why didn't anybody come to Q's?
I had 6 ladies with me....

At Mar 15, 2008, 6:58:00 AM, Anonymous willis said...

Alex, you are a genius. But, truth is that 99.6% of D-1 teams end their season with a loss, not just 99%! Bruins will beat Stanford today as Mata-Real/Aboya/Keefe will rise to the occasion. Stange things happen more often than not when one player goes down and others have to step in.
Go Bruins!


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