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January 6, 2006The battered and battle worn UCLA Bruins played perhaps their best game of the season getting the better of Pac 10 foe Arizona 85-79. This victory marks the first time the Bruins have won in the McKale Center since 1997. The Bruins hustled from the opening tip to the final whistle. There were some mental lapses on both ends of the floor, but that is to be expected when you are playing freshmen and sophomores.
The hustling Bruins were able to take the ball to the hole and created a lot of easy baskets. They shot a phenomenal 68 percent (17-for-25) in the first half and 31-for-51 on the night.
The Wildcats received an early taste of what they were into when the Bruins opened the game with an 8-0 run playing excellent transition basketball.
Arizona didn't score their first bucket until nearly four minutes were gone in the game. Unlike the Cal game, the Bruins had their step back and were playing outstanding defense.
There were many heroes for the Bruins but once again sophomore guard Arron Afflalo stood up front and center to turn in a sensational performance. Whenever things became tight it seemed that Afflalo was there to make a key shot.
Afflalo was lights out shooting ball hitting on 8-11 shots and 3-6 from beyond the three-point arc to lead the Bruins with 20 points.
What can one say about the gritty performance turned in by UCLA point guard, Jordan Farmar?
The true tail of the tape was when the Bruins replaced Farmar early in the game after taking their eight point lead and the Wildcats were able to get back in the game.
Farmar only played 24 minutes and he did have six turnovers, but when push came to shove, he hit four pressure filled free throws in the waning seconds of the second half to put the game on ice.
For the game Farmar contributed 11 points and a team high four assists. For a moment in the first-half the Bruin Nation held their collective breath when Farmar rolled his ankle again. The ever gutsy Farmar re-taped his ankle and finished the game.
Josh Shipp was also superb. Several times throughout the game he was in the right place at the right time. For the second time since returning he scored the first points of the game for UCLA.
Shipp finished the night with 14 points and six rebounds.
Sophomore center Lorenzo Mata had solid game making key plays throughout the night. His presence for the most part was felt on the defensive side of the floor. He was also tenacious on the glass collecting seven rebounds, four of them offensive glass.
Mata also had a good night shooting the ball making 3-4 shots from the field and 3-4 free throws for a total of nine points.
One would have to wonder where the Bruins would be this season without the services of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Mbah a Moute once again led the team in rebounds. The Cal game has been the only time this season Mbah a Moute hasn't led the Bruins in rebounding.
Mbah a Moute had nice all-around game accounting for nine rebounds, eight points and three assists.
Darren Collison showed no fear at McKale Center and the true freshman did a fine job filling in the ailing Farmar. Collison played 30 minutes scored nine points, three assists and two steals.
The only negative about this game for the Bruins was at times the Wildcats were able to get easy baskets inside of the paint.
Ivan Radenovic tallied 17 points and eight rebounds, four of them off the offensive glass.
The Wildcats talented senior guard Hassan Adams led all scorers with 21 points. He also had a game high six assists and chipped in five rebounds.
The Wildcats also have a freshman that had an outstanding game in forward Marcus Williams. Williams had 19 points, three assists and three rebounds.
It will be interesting to see how this young and banged up basketball team will respond after such a big victory. Will they come out flat and a beat slow like they did against Cal or will they respond the way they did against the Wildcats?
If the intensity level is similar to the Arizona game then the Bruins could end up with a sweep in the desert.
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