Jan. 25, 2007
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - The questioning had ended when coach Ben Howland asked himself a question: "Why do we get off to such slow starts? I don't know."
UCLA is becoming used to the pattern of falling behind early only to run away with it at the end for a lopsided victory.
Case in point at California.
Arron Afflalo scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and made all nine of his free throws, leading the third-ranked Bruins past the Golden Bears 62-46 Thursday night.
"They were fighting and we were making some mistakes," Afflalo said. "So we knew we had to come out in the second half and play with a lot more energy, a lot more effort."
Josh Shipp added 12 points and threw a pretty behind-the-back bounce pass to Afflalo for a late basket, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute returned after missing one game with a knee injury. He grabbed 11 rebounds in the Bruins' fourth straight win since a 68-66 loss at Oregon on Jan. 6 - the team's lone defeat so far.
Afflalo shot 7-for-13 and didn't score until making two free throws with 4:39 to go in the opening half.
"Once I got a few free throws, I got myself into the flow of the game," Afflalo said.
His defense on Cal leader Ayinde Ubaka was strong the entire game.
"You've got to look at Arron Afflalo's defense," Howland said. "Not only does he get 25, he does a great job on Ubaka."
Ubaka went 0-for-8 and was held scoreless for the fourth time in his college career and had only two assists. Ubaka, who has been slowed by an intestinal virus in recent days, hadn't gone without scoring since Feb. 12, 2005, at Stanford.
"I think his tank was a little bit on empty today coming in," Cal coach Ben Braun said, insisting it was no excuse. "You could see his timing wasn't there and he struggled. He's our leader. He'll bounce back. UCLA did a good job deciding they were going to keep the ball out of his hands."
Theo Robertson had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists, and Ryan Anderson added 13 points and six boards but the Golden Bears disappointed the sellout crowd of 11,877 at Haas Pavilion, where many students packed their section about an hour before tipoff.
The Bruins (18-1, 7-1 Pac-10), coming off a sweep of the Arizona schools, finished 50 percent from the floor after a slow start.
They beat the Bears in two of three meetings last season, and UCLA clinched a share of the Pac-10 title with a 67-58 overtime win in Berkeley last March 2. UCLA then defeated Cal again in the conference tournament championship game.
This time, the Bruins took their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Afflalo with 3:55 before halftime - giving him five straight points after the free throws - to start a 7-0 spurt that helped UCLA to a 28-24 edge at the break.
It continued early in the second half.
"They came out and made a run and we got away from what we were trying to do," Robertson said. "They're a great team. Any time you make mistakes, they're going to take advantage."
Cal (12-8, 4-4), which returned home after playing six of its previous eight games on the road, gave up too many easy baskets in the second half. The Bears lost their second straight to a highly ranked conference opponent after a 92-84 setback at No. 7 Oregon on Saturday.
During Cal's quick start, Anderson hit a long 3 with a hand in his face to beat the 35-second buzzer and dunked the next time down the floor with the clock about to expire. Robertson's dunk on Cal's ensuing possession made it 13-8, causing Howland to quickly call time out.
The Bruins' Darren Collison was whistled for an offensive foul while driving the lane moments later.
After Jerome Randle's 3 with 10:24 remaining before halftime made it 16-8, UCLA answered with seven unanswered points, including five straight from Michael Roll.
UCLA missed its first four shots and had two early travel calls, finding it tough to establish any offensive rhythm against Cal's scrappy man defense. The Bruins, who were 8-of-20 to start the game, didn't reach the free-throw line until 9:54 remained in the first half, and Russell Westbrook missed both.
Already short-handed because of injury, Cal played another man down after losing forward Eric Vierneisel to a sprained left ankle in the final 2 minutes of Wednesday's practice. He could miss up to three weeks. That left the Bears with only eight healthy scholarship players, including a former walk-on and two freshmen.
"We've got to play with what we've been dealt," Robertson said. "We've had some unfortunate injuries. We're not going to put our heads down." .