UCLA Advances To Pac-10 Championship

March 10, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) - No. 13 UCLA is doing it with defense.

Freshman Darren Collison scored a career-high 15 points, Arron Afflalo and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 12 each, and the Bruins took command early in the second half to beat Arizona 71-59 Friday night in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals.

The top-seeded Bruins (26-6) will play the winner of the Oregon-California game for the championship Saturday and the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament that goes with it.

The Bruins bring a six-game winning streak into Saturday's game, mainly because of their defense. They've limited the opposition to an average of just over 55 points per game since being beaten 71-68 by Southern California on Feb. 19.

Arizona entered averaging 73.4 points per game. The Wildcats' previous single-game low this season was 60 in a five-point win over California on Jan. 21.

Despite losing, the Wildcats (19-12) seem assured of an invitation to their 22nd straight NCAA tournament. They need one victory to reach the 20-win milestone for the 19th consecutive season.

Freshman Marcus Williams led Arizona with a career-high 25 points and seven rebounds. Ivan Radenovic added 17 points and 10 rebounds. No other Wildcat scored more than five points.

Collison shot 6-of-10 including 2-of-3 from 3-point range. His previous career best was 12.

UCLA's Cedric Bozeman started despite spraining his left ankle in the first half of Thursday night's 79-47 victory over Oregon State. He had nine points in 27 minutes.

Jordan Farmar got in early foul trouble and had a rare off-night. The Bruins' second-leading scorer had five points and six assists, and committed seven of his team's 11 turnovers.

Mbah a Moute and Ryan Hollins had seven rebounds each for UCLA.

The win was UCLA's third straight over Arizona this season. The Bruins swept the Wildcats for the first time since the 1996-97 season - the last time they won the regular-season championship before this year.

Arizona played without Hassan Adams, suspended for the tournament by coach Lute Olson after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving last weekend.

The Wildcats were able to beat Stanford 73-68 in the quarterfinals without Adams, but clearly missed their leading scorer against the Bruins.

The Bruins put the game away by outscoring the Wildcats 27-12 to start the second half for a 60-38 lead. The Wildcats hurt themselves by committing five of their 15 turnovers and shooting 5-of-19 during that stretch.

UCLA wound up shooting 28-of-56 (50 percent) while Arizona was 23-of-55 (41.8 percent).

Farmar picked up his second foul with 14:24 left before halftime and the Wildcats leading 11-10. With the sophomore guard on the bench, the Bruins turned up their defensive intensity, forcing several turnovers during a 16-3 run that put them ahead 26-14.

The Wildcats weren't closer than five points after that.

Farmar wound up playing eight minutes and going scoreless in the first half, which ended with the Bruins leading 33-26. Seven other UCLA players saw action in the half, and all scored.