Dec. 23, 2006
UCLA-Michigan Post Game Media Conference
Coach Ben Howland, sophomore forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, junior guard Arron Afflalo, sophomore forward Josh Shipp and sophomore point guard Darren Collison address the media following the Bruins' 92-55 victory over Michigan Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion. Click the link below to view this UCLA All-Acess post game video package.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Top-ranked UCLA's performance against highly regarded Michigan was so dominant, it left Bruins coach Ben Howland full of superlatives.
Fact is, he couldn't have found anything negative even if he tried.
"We just played our best game," Howland said. "Our guys were fired up for this game. Michigan played us extremely tough the last three years."
Michigan beat UCLA 70-66 in December 2003, but the Bruins topped the Wolverines 81-79 two years ago and 68-61 last season.
"The game was pretty close last year," Afflalo said. "Coming into this game, that was expected."
The Bruins made sure it wasn't.
"I think we were really good today. I think we could have beaten most teams in the country," Howland said. "I love the unselfishness of our team. Our quickness was really evident. These guys are just tremendous -- it's a lot of fun to be coaching them."
"We didn't play as capably as I thought we could," Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. "I think we were a little nervous. Our older guys were trying to make things happen, and I felt we were pressing a little bit.
"The main thing is, you have to take care of the ball on the road."
The Wolverines didn't, committing 15 of their season-high 23 turnovers in the first half while falling behind 36-23.
Courtney Sims led Michigan with 13 points, but 11 came after the outcome was decided. Lester Abram added 11 points for Michigan, which lost by 37 despite shooting 46 percent (23-of-50).
"Our defense is really good," Afflalo said. "Each possession is very personal to us. There was a lot of energy in the building. That's tough to play through. We didn't let up, that was the key. I think in their environment, they might have bounced back."
The Bruins, who had struggled at times against several outmanned opponents, are off to their best start since the 1993-94 season, when they won their first 14 games.
Michigan (11-2) is off to its best start in 14 years, but the Wolverines were playing just their third road game. And they have beaten only two teams -- Davidson and Harvard -- with winning records.
The Bruins outscored the Wolverines 10-2 in the first three minutes of the second half for a 46-25 lead. Sims, averaging 15.6 points and 7.6 rebounds, had two points and two rebounds at that stage.
Shipp scored seven points and Mbah a Moute added five during a 17-4 run that made it 67-36, and the Bruins went on to lead by as many as 40 points.
UCLA shot 33-of-56, including 11-of-20 from 3-point range, and outrebounded the Wolverines 28-24.
The Bruins are much younger than Michigan, starting three sophomores and two juniors while the Wolverines go with one junior and four seniors.
But experience was no factor in this game.
Mbah a Moute stole the ball twice in the early going, setting the tone.
"We were doubling the post, and I just went for the ball," he said. "My teammates did a great job of pressuring the ball."
The Wolverines averaged 14.8 turnovers in their previous 12 games. They surpassed that in the opening 20 minutes.
Sims had no room to maneuver in the first half, attempting only two shots. The Bruins held the 6-foot-10, 245-pound senior to six points in last season's game in Michigan.
UCLA has gotten off to several slow starts recently, but not against the Wolverines, taking an 8-0 lead on two free throws by Collison and two 3-pointers by Afflalo. And that was just the beginning.
The Bruins are 10-3 in their series with Michigan including 6-1 at Pauley Pavilion. The Wolverines are 1-17 all-time in games against opponents ranked No. 1.
UCLA's Nikola Dragovic, a freshman from Serbia, played in his first game of the season, scoring three points in six minutes. He had been suspended for 10 games by the NCAA because a player on the club team he played for received compensation.
The Bruins open their Pac-10 schedule this week with home games against Washington State (11-1) and No. 17 Washington (10-1).
"There's no easy games coming up -- it's like murderers' row," Howland said. "We've got the best league in the country. There is not going to be an easy game."
Michigan plays two more nonconference games before opening its Big Ten schedule Jan. 3 against Illinois.