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January 13, 2006The UCLA Bruins(14-2/4-1) were able to hold off a fast and furious second half comeback to defeat Washington State (9-4/2-2) at Pauley Pavilion 63-61. The victory didn't come without a price. The snake bit Bruins saw emerging big man, Lorenzo Mata, rolling with pain after he collided with Jordan Farmar after the duo were getting after a loose ball on a hustle play with three minutes left to play.
When Mata went down with three minutes left in the game, the Cougars were on an 18-9 point run and reduced a 17 point Bruin lead to 58-50.
Without Mata's defensive presence the Cougars were able to get two easy baskets and an open jumper by Cougar sophomore forward Robbie Cowgill, to make the game uncomfortably close 58-56.
As he has all season Arron Afflalo made the play that stopped the Bruin landslide. It didn't come easy for Afflalo however. Afflalo first missed his lay in but followed the shot and tapped it in to get the lead to 60-56.
Afflalo was called for on last week's Pac 10 Player of the week sophomore guard Josh Akognon behind the three point arc and he promptly made three free throws. The score now read 60-59.
Akognon almost single handily drove the Cougar comeback. He scored a game high 25 points all in the second half.
The Bruins were in need of a bucket and Darren Collison made like Tyus Edney. He raced the length of the floor through a press and made a lay-up to make the 62-59.
Then Afflalo was called for very questionable foul on Akognon who calmly stepped up and sank both free throws to make the score 62-61. Lady luck was definitely smiling on Akognon as his first of a one-plus-one rattled in with a shooter's touch.
Afflalo was fouled and was faced with a very tense one-plus-one situation. He hit the first free throw and missed the second giving a the Bruins a two-point lead with seven seconds left on the clock.
The Cougars have a lot of time left to either hit a three for the win or a two-point bucket for a tie and put the game in overtime.
Sophomore guard Kyle Weaver had a great look for a lay in but somehow he missed and Collison was all over the rebound to secure the win.
It is not known at this time the severity of Mata's injury. Hopefully it is nothing more than a bruise. Mata was really picking up his game as a defensive presence inside the paint a Bruin weakness over the past few seasons.
Mata took a MRI after the game and there should be some news on Friday (January 13th).
Mata left the game with four rebounds and three points but he did a nice job on defense protecting the basket.
Once again Afflalo led the Bruins in scoring with 18. He had a solid around game accounting for seven rebounds, four assists and one blocked shot. Not bad for a guy with a hip pointer.
Jordan Farmar on a tender ankle also had a strong game. He led the game with seven assists. He also chipped in 12 points for the cause.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute once again led the team with nine rebounds. He also had nine points, two blocked shots and a steal.
Freshman Michael Roll had 10 points and two assists while playing 32 minutes.
Collison had seven points, four rebounds and two assists.
Once again this young Bruin basketball team showed grit and resiliency. There is one more very important question to ask.
How much more attrition to this team can the Bruins take?
Admiration for this group is at an all time high.
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