Collison and Love Power Bruins Over Beavers
By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report
Junior Darren Collison scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Bruins to a 85-62 victory over the Oregon State Beavers at Corvallis.
Showing he has completely returned from an early season knee injury, Collison shot 9 of 12 from the field and made 12 of 12 from the free throw line. He is in the midst of a 26 consecutive free throw streak.
Collison, who sat out the first six games of the season due to his injury, stroked it effectively from outside and drove the lane with reckless abandon.
"He played poised and smart, and I'm really happy for him," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "Now we've got to build off this."
Kevin Love muscled his way to 16 points and set yet another Bruin freshman record with 21 rebounds. In his trip back to the state of Oregon, Love finished with a combined 42 points and 39 rebounds over two games.
The freshman center also showcased his outlet passing talents numerous times during the game, hitting his teammates in stride down the court for quick baskets.
The Bruins (18-2, 6-1) went on a 17-2 run in the first seven minutes of the second-half to open up a nineteen point cushion to put the game away early. They held the Beavers to without a field goal in the half until the 11:44 mark. Oregon State shot just 22.2% over the final twenty minutes.
Yet, as much as UCLA dominated the second-half, the last-place Beavers played them tough in the first-half, trailing at halftime by the score of 43-39 and went into the locker room brimming with confidence they could hang with the Pac-10 champs.
Although Oregon State (6-14, 0-8) went into the game shooting a Pac-10 worst 38.3% from the field and 27% on three-pointers, they exploited the Bruin defense, as Oregon and USC had done in their games, by spreading the floor and dribble penetrating for lay-ups.
Beaver's Josh and Seth Tarver and Lathan Wallace took their defenders off the dribble to the basket numerous times for 33 first-half points alone. Wallace also hit two deep threes. Oregon State finished shooting 48.5% in the half and 50% (4 of 8) on three pointers.
Opponents have realized the best way to beat the Bruin defense is by spreading the floor and minimizing help defenders and at times exploiting them with back door cuts/passes. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's presence and quickness on defense is sorely missed. He was out for a second game due to a concussion.
Moreover, Russell Westbrook allowed his opponent on numerous occasions to easily beat him off the dribble and penetrate in the first half. Westbrook, who had been gaining a reputation as a defensive stopper, doesn't seem as focused as he was earlier in the season. At times during the game he was either playing his opponent at the wrong angles or guarding them too closely, and allowing them to blow by him numerous times.
Although the Bruin defensive intensity increased in the second-half, ultimately leading to a blow-out victory, they'll certainly need both Mbah a Moute back and on court and for Westbrook to reclaim his spot as the team's defensive stopper if they are to be successful this season.
Josh Shipp struggled with his shooting for the second consecutive game. Although he finished with 12 points against the Beaers, he was just 5 of 18 on this Oregon road trip.
UCLA went to the foul line twice as much as Oregon State, finishing 28 of 36 (77.7%) from the charity stripe. The Bruins also outrebounded the Beavers, 41-30.
The Bruins go back home to Pauley Pavilion to prepare for Arizona State on Thursday. The Sun Devils lost a close game on Saturday to Washington State, 56-55.
(photo credit: AP)
Labels: Game Summaries