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Kurt Streeter. First half story -- Bruins very good, Darren Collison...not so good

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Early on in the first half, Darren Collison didn’t have much in the way of significant impact. He was called for a hard foul -– an attempt to draw a charge that looked more like a flop than anything else –- and he promptly sat on the bench just a few minutes into the game. He was replaced by freshman Jerime Anderson and his skimpy 2.8 points per game average. (Collison averages 14.6.)

Not exactly sure why Ben Howland put his star guard on the bench, but Collison sure didn’t look pleased. Maybe he was angry at himself, maybe he was angry at his coach, but he shook a fist in the air and draped a towel over his knees.

His face was a mask of sour disappointment. (Could well be that he’s just ticked-off at having to sit on the bench for even 15 seconds of his last regular-season game against UCLA’s cross-town rival.)

When Collison returned, his team was up 15-7 and he’d scored two of the Bruins points on free throws. Again manning the point, he wasn’t much more of a factor. A few minutes went by and he picked up an assist. Then Howland sat him again.

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Remember my belief that as Collison went, so would his team? Well, apparently I was wrong.

With just under six minutes left in the half he came back, but without him, his team hardly missed a beat -- the Bruins were up ,34-13. Pretty much everyone with the letters UCLA on the jersey was playing well.

The Trojans? They looked as if they’d either emerged from a slumber just 15 minutes before the game began, or as if they simply felt they had no chance against the onslaught of shuffling feet and waving arms that is the Bruins’ defense.

A performance such as this certainly is great news for UCLA’s long-term hopes. If, without their most important player giving them much, they can play like this, then maybe they are much more than Mr. Collison and his merry mates.

At the half the score is UCLA 44, USC 21. Only a miracle will allow the Trojans to win this game.

Josh Shipp leads the Bruins with 10 points. Darren Collison?….ouch. He has two points on two free throws. He also has one assist.

For his sake, let’s hope the NBA scouts missed the first half.

-- Kurt Streeter


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