Collison Leads Bruins To Pac-10 Tournament Crown
By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report
With UCLA's front line hurting, the backcourt stepped up its game.
Point-guard Darren Collison scored 28 points and Russell Westbrook grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to lead the Bruins to a 67-64 win and Pac-10 Tournament championship.
The victory should help to cement a No.1 seed for UCLA (31-3) in the West Region at the upcoming NCAA tournament. Seedings and brackets will be announced on Sunday.
Already missing Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who sat out with a sprained ankle, freshman center Kevin Love experienced back spasms in the opening minutes of the game, causing him to miss much of the first half and limited his movement. Stanford capitalized by jumping out to an early 19-11 lead.
After a UCLA timeout the Bruins began to step it up on defense, seemingly getting to every loose and tipped ball and raced to the half on a 22-13 run to tie the game 32-32.
In the second half, Stanford moved out to a four point lead after a dunk by Brook Lopez, but then the Bruins went on a 27-13 run to open up a ten point lead, 61-51, with just over two minutes remaining. Collison took control during this span with a variety of drives to the basket leaving Stanford's Mitch Johnson in the dust while alluding Stanford's Lopez twins for deft defying lay-ups and tear-drop shots.
The Bruins also ran a high pick and roll for Collison which Stanford was unable to defend. Cardinal coach Trent Johnson was forced to move to a zone defense later in the half to try to control Collison's dribble penetration . He finished 12-22 from the field.
"I felt real confident," Collison said. "They had a hard time stopping the pick-and-roll. That was a big key for us, so we kept going to it."
Stanford made one final move and managed to cut the lead to one point with seven seconds remaining in the game, but Collison sank two free throws to extend the lead back to three. Anthony Goods' halfcourt shot with time running out fall short, and the Bruins finished the season as both Pac-10 conference regular season and tournament champions.
Collison was named MVP of the Pac-10 Tournament. Over three tourney games, the junior point-guard averaged 20 points to lead the Bruins.
Sophomore James Keefe stepped up big for the team, scoring 8 points and grabbing 3 rebounds. He did a good job defensively against Robin Lopez, blocking one of the 7-footer's shots during the Bruins' key second half run.
Josh Shipp also helped on the boards with 9 rebounds. Despite being out-sized on the floor by Stanford's massive front line, UCLA outrebounded Stanford 39-34. In addition, the Bruins grabbed 18 offensive rebounds.
Kevin Love seemed to move better in the second half and finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds.
UCLA completed a three-game sweep of a very tough Stanford team this year. The Cardinal will likely lose Brook Lopez to the NBA draft this season. He finished with a team-high 15 points and 6 rebounds.
The Bruins shot just 38% from the field and a season-worst 39.1% (9-23) from the free-throw line. But UCLA's advantage on the boards, especially on the offensive end, and the fact the Bruins committed just four turnovers were the deciding factors in the game.
Stanford (26-7) finished shooting 47.9% from the field.
Now the Bruins will rest up and wait for tomorrow's tournament bracket announcements.
BBR Notes: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was wearing a walking boot and on crutches at the game. Its uncertain when he will return although its unlikely he will be available, or needed, for UCLA's opening round game on Thursday.
(photo credit: AP)
Labels: Game Summaries