Mismatches Doom Bruins in Final Four Loss
By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report
For the third consecutive year UCLA ran into a team better in the Final Four. Memphis's Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 28 points and Derrick Rose added 25 to end the Bruin's season with a 78-63 win. The Tigers advance to the championship game against Kansas on Monday.
UCLA came into the contest with a reputation of being the better defensive and more physical team; however, they were never able to impose their will on a solid Memphis squad. In many respects, the Tigers were the more aggressive team and it was the Bruins playing on the back of their heels.
One of the keys going into the game for UCLA was their ability to control the boards, instead Memphis out-worked them and outrebounded the Bruins 42-35. In addition, the Tigers seemingly beat them to every loose ball opportunity. Joey Dorsey scored zero points but he pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds including 6 on the offensive end.
However, the biggest disparity between the two teams was the mismatch in the backcourt. Freshman Derrick Rose dominated UCLA's Darren Collison who was neither strong nor big enough to check the 6'3 Memphis point guard. Rose repeatedly powered himself into the paint against Collison for high percentage shots and passes to open teammates.
Unfortunately for UCLA, Collison's problems on the defensive end carried over into his offense. He finished with only 2 points on 1 of 9 shooting and committed five turnovers, playing perhaps his worst game of the season.
Collison was guarded most of the evening by either 6'7 Douglas-Roberts or 6'6 Antonio Anderson, and their size and length bothered and frustrated him.
Interestingly UCLA perhaps had its best match-up on the floor against Memphis when Collison picked up his fourth foul and had to sit on the bench with eight minutes remaining in the game. With Collison out, UCLA had Westbrook on Rose, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on Douglas-Roberts and Josh Shipp on Anderson. With this line-up UCLA got two impressive defensive stops, forcing Memphis into tough shots, and cut the lead from eleven to seven points.
But then UCLA Coach Ben Howland decided to insert Collison back into the game at the five minute mark. Perhaps Howland figured he'd win this game with the same players who got them here. Instead the Bruins were thrown again into an array of defensive mismatches. Douglas-Roberts scored four straight points, including a momentum-changing dunk over Kevin Love while being guarded on the perimeter by Josh Shipp.
The Bruins were never able to make another run. Yet, the game wasn't just lost during this span, instead Memphis was the aggressor in the game and with their talent and athleticism the Tigers were able to control the tempo and ultimate outcome.
UCLA did not do a good job stopping Memphis in transition throughout the contest, in addition, the Bruins were unable to exploit its offensive advantage inside the paint with Kevin Love.
Although Love finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds, he only scored two points in the second half, finishing the game with just 11 shot attempts. The Bruins were unable to get the ball to Love despite Memphis' big men Dorsey and Shawn Taggart picking early foul trouble to start the second half.
With the Bruins unable to establish a low post game, they were forced to take shots from outside resulting in long rebounds and transition opportunities for Memphis. Love took three shot-attempts in the second half - two of the shots were from three-point distance!
Since UCLA was down most of the half, Howland elected to play Love the entire second and he was clearly winded down the stretch.
Sophomore guard Russell Westbrook had the best offensive performance for UCLA. He finished 10 of 19 for 22 points to lead the Bruins. Westbrook showed to all why he will play at the next level, aggressively slicing through traffic and getting to the basket at ease for scores.
But much of the credit must be given to the Memphis Tigers who outplayed UCLA in practically every facet of the game. Instead of allowing Collison and Love to beat them, they forced others on the Bruin team to hit shots such as Luc Ricahrd Mbah a Moute who took 13 shot attempts - second most on the team only behind Westbrook.
The Tigers also did a good job taking care of the ball. One of UCLA's signatures under Howland is to generate offensive opportunities via its pressure defense, but the Tigers were ready and committed just nine turnovers in the game.
UCLA finished an incredible season at 35-4. While a third consecutive Final Four is an amazing accomplishment for any basketball program, missing out on a national championship is disappointing, especially considering this was perhaps Coach Ben Howland's best team in Westwood since arriving five years ago.
(photo credit: AP)
Labels: Game Summaries (Tournament)