UCLA Finishes Strong To Top UC Irvine

Nov. 27, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Aaron Afflalo scored four of his 14 points in the final3:03 and Dijon Thompson clinched it with three free throws with 52 seconds leftto help UCLA held off stubborn UC Irvine 76-65 on Saturday.

Thompson and Jordan Farmar also has 14 points each for UCLA, off to itsfirst 3-0 start since 1999-00. Center Michael Fay scored all 13 of his pointsin the first half.

The Bruins' three victories have come against teams that were a combined26-62 last season. A win Tuesday night against Long Beach State at PauleyPavilion would give the Bruins their first 4-0 start since 1994-95, when theywon their first six games, finished 31-1 under coach Jim Harrick and capturedtheir 11th NCAA championship.

Aaron Fitzgerald scored 17 points for Irvine (1-2). The Anteaters are 9-27against Pac-10 teams and haven't beaten anyone from that conference since a65-55 victory at Washington on Dec. 28, 2000.

Irvine's Jeff Gloger, who played 14 scoreless minutes in the first half,scored 11 points in the second half. He opened the final 20 minutes with a15-footer and a driving layup before the Anteaters narrowed the gap to 52-49with 8:58 remaining on consecutive jumpers by Gloger, Schraeder and ShamarArmstrong.

But UCLA responded with a 12-4 run that restored their double-digit marginto 64-53 with 5:16 left. Thompson made a 3-pointer, Brian Morrison barely beatthe shot clock with another 3, and Farmar's fast-break layup ended a string ofeight straight Bruins points to cap the rally.

Irvine (1-2) held the lead only once - after Ross Schraeder opened thescoring with an 18-foot jumper that just beat the shot clock 38 seconds afterthe opening tip. UCLA led 40-18 at halftime after Farmar made a nice fake onFitzgerald and hit a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds on the clock, restoring theBruins' biggest lead of the half.

The Bruins, who had committed 40 turnovers in the first two games made justthree before intermission. The Anteaters committed eight turnovers in the firsthalf and shot 43 percent, including 2-for-10 from 3-point range.

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