Nov. 15, 2005
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Arron Afflalo scored a career-high 23 points to lead 18th-ranked UCLA over New Mexico State 83-70 in a first-round Preseason NIT game Tuesday night.
The Bruins never trailed and maintained a double-digit lead most of the second half, with 10 players getting minutes, including three of the team's highly touted freshmen.
UCLA will host Temple in a second-round game Thursday night. The Owls advanced with a 69-37 victory over Army.
John Wooden, still a magnet for autograph seekers at 95, watched the Bruins win their season opener for the third straight year under coach Ben Howland.
Elijah Ingram led New Mexico State with a career-high 22 points after not playing for more than 1 1/2 years because he transferred from St. John's. Shaun Davis added 15 points.
The Aggies lost their opener under new coach Reggie Theus, who grew up down the freeway in Inglewood and starred at UNLV and in the NBA. He took over a team that went 6-24 last season and has just two returning starters.
The Aggies outscored UCLA 12-5 to end the half trailing by seven.
Afflalo did most of his damage in the first half with 16 points, including hitting all five of his free throws.
The Bruins started the second half with an 18-10 run that increased their lead to 59-44. Afflalo ignited the spark with a 3-pointer before 7-footer Michael Fey ended it with a jumper.
Down the stretch, the Aggies couldn't muster any momentum against UCLA's defense. The Bruins ran off eight in a row for a 79-61 lead with 2:22 remaining.
The Bruins are playing in the Preseason NIT for the first time since 1996, when they were upset by Tulsa in overtime of the opening round in Steve Lavin's first game after taking over from the fired Jim Harrick.