Jan. 13, 2007
LOS ANGELES (AP) -This time, Arron Afflalo got UCLA's last shot. And with the game in his hands, he came through.
Afflalo hit a go-ahead 15-foot jumper with 4 seconds left, Darren Collison scored a career-high 17 points and No. 4 UCLA rallied in the final 4 1/2 minutes to beat crosstown rival Southern California 65-64 Saturday.
The Bruins (15-1, 4-1 Pac-10) were coming off a 68-66 loss at Oregon that knocked them out of the No. 1 ranking.
"The Oregon loss was real devastating and we didn't want to experience that again," Collison said.
In that game, UCLA went for a 3-pointer to win, but Afflalo got trapped in the corner and the ball swung to Josh Shipp, who missed an off-balance attempt.
"I kind of expressed my frustration a little bit on how I at least want the ball in my hands for the last play, despite how I had been playing," Afflalo said.
USC freshman Daniel Hackett's pesky defense on Afflalo held UCLA's leading scorer to two points in the first 20 minutes Saturday. But Afflalo opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers and then came up big at the end.
"You feel a little pressure after you make statements like that and the very next game you're put in that situation," said Afflalo, who finished with 15 points. "But once I got the ball in my hands, I don't hear the crowd, I don't hear anything. I'm looking to make that shot."
The Trojans weren't scared with the outcome in doubt, either.
Gabe Pruitt and Nick Young hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the score at 63 with 22 seconds to go. Young was fouled and made the free throw for a 64-63 lead.
Afflalo's jumper put the Bruins back in front, 65-64. The Trojans brought the ball past midcourt under heavy pressure, but freshman Taj Gibson was being forced out of bounds as he tossed up a desperation shot that never had a chance.
"Nick made a great shot, Gabe made a great shot. (Afflalo) just happened to make the last one that sealed the game," said USC's Lodrick Stewart, who had 13 points. "We were just a couple seconds from getting this win. It's probably one of those games that will be looked at for a lot of years."
The Trojans (13-5, 3-2) led 55-49 before going scoreless for nearly five minutes. UCLA ran off nine straight points and seemingly had the momentum.
"We had looks that I liked," USC coach Tim Floyd said. "But we were playing a very good defensive club and you're going to have gaps (in scoring). The bottom line is we didn't have enough offensive rebounds to win it."
USC also missed the front ends of three free-throw opportunities, including one each by Hackett, an 89 percent shooter, and Young, who averages 75 percent.
"Our inability to make some free throws was a real difference in this game," Floyd said.
Lorenzo Mata added 12 points for UCLA, which shot 39 percent from the floor, had 12 turnovers and owned a 10-5 offensive rebounding edge. The Bruins played without Shipp, their second-leading scorer. He didn't dress because of a small tear in his right hamstring.
"I'm so proud of this team," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "They showed a lot of character, playing in a tough environment, playing on the road against a team that I believe is going to be in the NCAA tournament. That's how good I think USC is."
Young finished with 14 points and Pruitt added 10 for the Trojans, who fell to 3-2 against ranked opponents this season.
Young hit his tying 3 from the right baseline as Collison came flying at him. Young collapsed on the floor in joy, while Collison tossed up his arms in disgust at the foul call.
The first sellout crowd of 9,682 at USC's new Galen Center went wild, but Afflalo soon thwarted their enthusiasm. At the buzzer, Young bent down, his hands covering his face, and stayed in that position while the Bruins celebrated.
"I wanted to stand there and cry," he said. "It hurt. I kind of felt we had the game."
The Trojans twice led by 10 points in the second half, but the Bruins kept cutting into the lead. They stayed close on the shooting of Collison, who scored nine in a row, including back-to-back 3-pointers.
Afflalo, who opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers, got fouled by Hackett and made both for a 55-all tie with 4:38 remaining. Then Afflalo hit a 3-pointer to give UCLA its first lead of the half, 58-55.
Mata, the Bruins' worst free throw shooter at 31 percent, made the first and missed the second to keep UCLA in front, 59-57, after a basket by Young.
Mata scored inside, then Stewart's jumper bounced off the rim to keep USC down 61-57. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute committed his fourth foul against Young, who missed the 1-and-1 attempt.
Mata scored on a cleanup of Collison's missed jumper for a 63-57 lead. After a timeout, Pruitt hit his second 3-pointer of the half to get within three.
Mata got fouled, but missed both free throws, then Young completed his four-point play that put the Trojans ahead by one.
Hall of Famer Bill Sharman, who played at USC from 1947-50 and later starred on four NBA championship teams with the Boston Celtics, had his jersey retired at halftime.
Prior to the game, there was a moment of silence for USC kicker Mario Danelo, whose body was found last week down a rocky cliff in San Pedro.