Following a nice road sweep of the Bay Area schools, UCLA returned to Pauley Pavilion this weekend for a two-game homestand against the Washington schools, with today’s game featuring a matchup between two schools ranked in the top five nationally when Washington State brought its gaudy undefeated record to town.
UCLA started the weekend right on Thursday night by knocking off
While UCLA certainly did not keep up the same pace in the second half, the game was never really in doubt after halftime, and Darren Collison, who had already had a bout with food poisoning earlier in the week, was allowed to rest a bruised hip throughout the second half.
The Bruin victory, coupled with
The second half seemed to be more of the same, until the Cougars cut the lead under 10 for the first time since that first WSU field goal of the game at the mark of the first half. However, UCLA responded with a Collison layup, a couple nice plays by Mbah a Moute and then a strong layup by Kevin Love plus a foul on Aron Baynes, and UCLA seemed to have the game firmly in hand again with a 13 point lead with 2:30 remaining. But, the Cougars were loathe to let the game slip away and began a barrage of three-pointers, drilling seven in a row, to cut the lead to 77-74 with 12 seconds remaining. The Bruins did, however, take care of business at the free throw line and walked off with a 81-74 victory.
Kevin Love played perhaps his best game of his short career at UCLA, pouring in 27 points (including a couple threes), hauling down 14 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. One area where you will see Love make a huge impact is down the stretch of tight games like this one, his ability to make free throws, to find open teammates, and especially to take the ball out of the bottom of the net after an opponent’s made basket, step out of bounds, and find a teammate stretching the opposition’s tight defense for an easy hoop.
While there is certainly a lot of basketball left to be played in a tough conference, this appears to be the most solid Bruin team of the Howland era, and a definite threat to be dancing in