Bruins Outlast Cougars In Pac-10 Opener

Dec. 28, 2006

UCLA-Washington State Post Game Media Conference

Coach Ben Howland, sophomore forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, junior guard Arron Afflalo and sophomore point guard Darren Collison address the media following the Bruins' 55-52 victory over Washington State Thursday evening at Pauley Pavilion. Click the link below to view this UCLA All-Acess post game video package.

Post Game Media Conference

Box Score

LOS ANGELES (AP) - As Darren Collison goes, so goes UCLA.

And the top-ranked Bruins were as bad as their point guard in the first half against Washington State. He had zero points, three turnovers, three fouls and his team trailed by 10.

Collison played like a man possessed in the final 20 minutes, scoring 13 points and hitting a 3-pointer that put UCLA ahead for good in a 55-52 victory Thursday night.

"I wasn't concerned with how bad I was doing, I just wanted to win," he said. "I wanted to pick up the intensity offensively and defensively."

Arron Afflalo added 13 points and Josh Shipp had 11 points playing on a sprained right ankle to keep the Bruins (12-0) as one of four undefeated Top 25 teams. Shipp injured himself at the end of practice Tuesday.

"Our offense was really inept," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "To be able to win a game shooting 33 percent doesn't happen very often."

Washington State (11-2) dropped to 0-25 all-time against top-ranked teams, including 0-17 against the Bruins.

Derrick Low led the Cougars with 14 points and Nikola Koprivica added 12, but missed a tying 3-pointer as time expired that Collison got a fingertip on. Kyle Weaver had 10 rebounds.

"I thought we had them," Low said. "I felt like I let the team down."

The Bruins are 50-1 against the Cougars in Los Angeles.

"We're a little numb right now," first-year Cougars coach Tony Bennett said. "Some turnovers were really costly at crunch time."

UCLA's fifth consecutive win over Washington State didn't come easily against a team whose deliberate style frustrated the Bruins.

They survived despite shooting a season-worst 33 percent from the field. UCLA dominated the boards, 40-28, including 10 by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Neither team led by more than two points during a 6-minute stretch late in the second half until Collison hit his second 3-pointer for a 48-45 lead.

Afflalo turned the ball over, then fouled Weaver, causing UCLA to lose possession with 4 1/2 minutes left clinging to a one-point lead. But the Bruins caught a break when the Cougars lost the ball out of bounds.

Shipp's ensuing steal and layup, followed by a 3-pointer from Michael Roll extended UCLA's lead to 53-47 - its largest of the game - with 3:29 remaining.

Koprivica's 3-pointer got the Cougars to 53-50. The Bruins were called for a held ball, giving the Cougars possession and Ivory Clark dunked to make it 53-52.

Collison's layup rolled around the rim and out with 25 seconds left.

After a timeout, the Cougars worked the ball around to Low, whose 3-pointer fell short with 6 seconds left. Clark fouled Afflalo going for the rebound, and Afflalo made both to keep UCLA ahead 55-52 before Koprivica's long-range miss preserved the Bruins' winning streak.

"Derrick got a look," said Bennett, who has retained his father Dick's penchant for long possessions and smothering defense. "If he could have pump-faked, the guy would have sailed by him. Nikola had a good look, too, but it just didn't fall. We've been in some heartbreaking losses here."

A fastbreak layup by Low pushed the Cougars' lead to 35-26 early in the second half. But he soon picked up his third foul, and Afflalo and Collison teamed up to score 14 consecutive points for UCLA.

Mbah a Moute got the announced crowd of 11,102 into it with a blocked shot and Afflalo hit two 3-pointers. Collison added eight points, including a long-range basket that gave the Bruins their first lead since the opening minutes of the game, 40-39.

"The crowd was rooting us back into this game," Howland said. "If this game was in Pullman, we'd lose."

The Bruins were flustered into putting up quick shots, seven of which were blocked in the first half. Collison thrives on getting out on the break, but he sat down with his third foul late in the half.

The Bruins were 8-of-29 from the field in the first half, when they trailed 28-24. Their final possession indicated how things went: Afflalo's shot was blocked and Russell Westbrook grabbed the offensive rebound but missed.

UCLA improved to 19-10 in Pac-10 openers since 1978-79, while the Cougars fell to 11-18.

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