No. 1 UCLA Posts 78-54 Victory Over Cal State Fullerton

Dec. 6, 2006

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Down by 10 points at home for the first time this season, No. 1 UCLA eventually got its act together.

The Bruins found their way back helped by 20 points from Arron Afflalo and 16 by Josh Shipp in a 78-54 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday night.

UCLA's defense did its part, too, forcing 28 turnovers that turned into 30 points.

"This team showed a lot of maturity and bounced back," Afflalo said.

The Bruins (7-0) defeated their third consecutive Big West opponent, but this one was a lot closer until the final eight minutes than wins over Long Beach State and UC Riverside.

"We didn't think they were going to jump on us like that," Afflalo said. "We just had to get some defensive stops."

Afflalo hit four 3-pointers, Shipp had three long-range baskets, Darren Collison had 15 points and Lorezno Mata had a career-high 16 rebounds for UCLA, which improved to 9-0 against Fullerton, winning every game on the Bruins' home court.

Mata's rebounds were the most since Dijon Thompson had 18 in the 2004-05 season.

For the first time this season, Collison had more turnovers (five) than assists (three).

"It was just me making wrong decisions," he said.

The Bruins are off to their best start under coach Ben Howland in his fourth season.

Bobby Brown scored 18 points and Scott Cutley added 11 points for the Titans (5-2), playing a No. 1 team for the first time since 1991. Back in the late 1980s and early '90s, the Titans played the top-ranked team in UNLV, winning once in six matchups when the Runnin' Rebels were a powerhouse under Jerry Tarkanian.

"They are such a second-half team," Fullerton coach Bob Burton said. "We had to keep our best players on the floor in the first half to stay in it and I don't like to do that. Our guys got tired and hit a wall in the second half."

UCLA stretched a six-point halftime lead into a 13-point bulge with a 9-0 run to start the final 20 minutes. Collison hit a 3-pointer, two free throws and a layin while the Titans got one basket from Justin Burns, who had their first six points of the half.

The Titans got within six again on a 3-pointer by Marcus Crenshaw before UCLA ran off another nine in a row for a 61-47 lead. Shipp scored five straight and Afflalo hit a 3-pointer.

Fullerton guard Frank Robinson fouled out with 3:43 remaining and Cutley picked up his third during UCLA's second 9-0 spurt. By then, Brown was exhausted, Cutley's back bothered him and Crenshaw had a sprained ankle, but Burton couldn't substitute.

"They wore us down with their strength and defense," he said. "Our best players were falling down trying to penetrate. All of a sudden we couldn't score and then the turnovers came."

That run effectively finished off Fullerton, which was limited to two field goals over the final 6 minutes. Brown had the Titans' final seven points. They committed 28 turnovers to UCLA's 21.

The Titans clearly weren't intimidated playing underneath the 11 national championship banners hanging in Pauley Pavilion, jumping out to a 14-4 lead to start the game in front of 96-year-old John Wooden.

By then, the Bruins had committed seven of their 14 first-half turnovers against a Fullerton team that likes to play the same run-and-gun style.

The Bruins got back into it on the 3-point shooting of Afflalo and Shipp, who each made a pair that put UCLA in front 24-18.

UCLA held onto a 39-33 lead heading into halftime, but just barely.

Afflalo electrified the crowd by stepping around a defender and hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer before high-fiving fans on the way into the locker room.

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