UCLA Overruns Undermanned OSU

The Bruins start the Pac-10 Tournament Thursday with a Beaver blow-out, 79-47, with some of UCLA's key players not having to play so much. UCLA's defense once again spurs the second-half run to put away the game...

13th-ranked UCLA won its 25th game of the season by cranking on an injury-riddled Oregon State squad 79-47 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament Thursday afternoon.

OSU was playing without two of its leading scorers, Sasa Cuic and Nick DeWitz. The Bruins, who have lost more man hours to injury this season than any team in the country, showed no sympathy for the crippled Beavers as they led this game from start to finish and ended it early in the second half.

OSU tried to stay in the game by switching between a man defense and playing a 2-3 zone, the same zone which gave the Beavers a halftime lead at Pauley Pavilion just 2 weeks ago (of course, Cuic and DeWitz were both playing at that time as well). But the Bruins attacked the zone with great efficiency in the first half by bringing Cedric Bozeman up to the point guard spot, where his height enabled him to see over the top of the zone and find players flashing into the gaps. The Bruins also did a great job of spacing the floor against the zone and were able to find men open for 3s all game long. When OSU played a man, it fronted the Bruin post players and UCLA was able to feed Ryan Hollins with ease as the big man scored 12 points in the first half.

On the defensive side of the court, UCLA played its usual lock-down defense and OSU was unable to get into any kind of offensive flow early, making just 1 of its first 9 shots. OSU was able to find a rhythm for awhile with Marcel Jones, a good-looking 6-8 sophomore (really, he is good-looking; he's been an actor in several films). The Beavers would run Jones off a screen set by a guard and when the Bruins switched, Jones would take his shorter defender to the hole for a short J. Jones scored 12 points, nearly half of OSU's total of 27 points at the half. UCLA led 38-20 with about 2 minutes left, but made some unforced turnovers and allowed the Beavers to go on a 7-0 run to finish the half at 38-27, keeping the Beavers in the game. On the negative side for UCLA, they had 8 turnovers at halftime, most of them unforced, and were just 4-9 from the FT line.

Ben Howland obviously had a good talk with his team during the intermission, because the Bruins came out and just throttled the Beavers right away in the second half. An 11-0 run in the first 5 minutes essentially ended the game. The Bruin defense was so stingy, Oregon State managed just 8 points in the first 13 minutes of the second half. Meanwhile, UCLA continued to do a superior job of spacing the floor on offense, resulting in numerous open looks from 3 as well as lobs over the top of the defense to Hollins, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute and Alfred Aboya for easy scores inside. The Bruins even got a 3 from Darren Collison out of a pass from Ryan Hollins in the post after the defense collapsed, a first for the season. I'm not sure about the official stats, but I had the Bruins 10 for 15 from beyond the arc for the game. They also dominated the glass at both ends, out-rebounding the Beavers 38-25 (my count, not the official count). With 5 minutes left in the game, the score was 71-40 and Ben Howland cleared his bench, giving ample playing time to Mike Fey and Lorenzo Mata, who finally saw his first action since fracturing his tibia about two months ago. Mata made an immediate impact, blocking 2 shots in addition to scoring a basket. His return is very welcome and with his energy and defensive skills it's easy to see him playing in crunch time during the NCAA Tournament.

Something about the second half seems to resonate with Arron Afflalo, who once again scored in double figures in the final 20 minutes, getting 10 points in the second half to finish with 16 points overall, 2 rebounds and 2 assists, but he made 4 turnovers. His stats included 3 3s. Ryan Hollins beat out Afflalo for game-high scoring honors with 17 points while also grabbing 8 rebounds. Mike Roll hit all 3 of his 3s to finish with 9 points, while grabbing 3 rebounds and handing out 2 assists. He did look a little slow on defense against the quick OSU guards and was called for 3 holding fouls as he tried to keep up with his man. Jordan Farmar had 7 points, 6 assists and 4 turnovers and is still on pace to lead the Pac-10 in both assists and turnovers this season. Farmar did do an outstanding job of penetrating and playmaking against the OSU defense in the half court and made most of his mistakes in transition. Darren Collison also had trouble handling the ball, finishing with 5 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 turnovers. Alfred Aboya had 5 points and 4 rebounds and his fellow Cameroonian Luc Richard Mbah A Moute got 4 points and 5 rebounds. Ced Bozeman scored 6 points on a pair of 3s and handed out 2 assists before being injured. Janou Rubin saw extended time with Bozeman out and wound up scoring 6 points and getting 3 rebounds. Ryan Wright added 2 points and 3 rebounds and even Mike Fey and DeAndre Robinson each grabbed a rebound.

For Oregon State, Jones led the way with 17 points. Jason Fontenet and Wesley Washington each added 6 points, Chris Stephens managed just 5 points as he was shaded by Afflalo whenever Arron was in the game, and Jack McGillis, Kyle Jeffers and Michael Johnson each scored 3 points. Angelo Tsagarakis scored 2 points and massive 7-3 320 Liam Hughes got into the game and bumped into people.

This game doesn't prove a whole lot, since Oregon State was so undermanned, but the Bruins came out and did their jobs with cold efficiency, except for the turnovers and at the foul line, where the Bruins were just 13-22 overall. UCLA was fore-ordained to dismantle the Beavers in this game and did nothing to disappoint. Their defense was outstanding throughout the second half and according to the ESPN box score the Beavers shot just 32.1% from the floor for the game compared to UCLA's 52.8%. Arizona should present a sterner challenge with its quick, athletic perimeter players and offensive firepower up front. But Ryan Hollins seems to have developed into a real post scoring threat in the past couple of weeks and that has been the Wildcats' Achilles Heel this year, along with poor shot selection and unforced errors. Hopefully, the Bruins will encourage Arizona's bad tendencies and take care of the ball on offense themselves as they deal with the quicker Wildcats.

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