Bruins Win, Suffer Losses
Thursday night’s results at Pauley Pavilion: UCLA wins one, loses two.
It has been a season of exhilarating wins balanced by staggering losses of key personnel to injury, a season in which team doctors and trainers have been as integral to the team’s success as Coach Ben Howland, a season in which points, rebounds and assists have been matched by sprains, tears and arthroscopic procedures.
So it was again Thursday.
Facing the Stanford Cardinal, a team that had won eight straight games from the Bruins at UCLA and six in a row overall, the Bruins blew their tormentors out early in their Pacific 10 Conference opener, winning 71-54 after racing to a 23-3 lead. Playing what Howland said was the team’s best defensive effort of the season, UCLA limited Stanford to 29.2% shooting from the field and held its big three -- Dan Grunfeld (14.8 points a game), Chris Hernandez (11.5) and Matt Haryasz (18.1) -- to a total of 27 points on seven-for-31 shooting.
Yet any joy for the 11th-ranked Bruins in improving to 11-1 was tempered by the news that forward Cedric Bozeman has a season-threatening shoulder injury and by the sight of star guard Jordan Farmar limping off the court in the second half after having again sprained his right ankle. He had originally sprained it earlier in the season and sat out two games.
Farmar, who did not return, will undergo tests to determine the severity of his injury with a medical report expected today.
At least Howland can take solace in that traffic to the trainer’s room flows both ways.
Even as Bozeman and Farmar went out, Josh Shipp, penciled in as the starting wing after an impressive freshman season, took the court for the first time this season after undergoing surgery three months ago for torn cartilage in his hip.
Shipp, who had expected to play 20 minutes, logged 29, scored 11 points, and had three rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.
“He played critical minutes for us,” Howland said. “For him to show up after he had not played all season and have a game like this is miraculous.”
After practice Tuesday, Shipp seemed unsure whether he was ready to return, but Stanford had no doubts from the opening tipoff.
UCLA guard Arron Afflalo stole the ball near the sideline on the Cardinal side of the court in the first minute, looked up, saw Shipp streaking toward his own basket as if he hadn’t missed a step from last season and fed him a long pass. Shipp took it in stride, and, with Cardinal defender Tim Morris on his back, Shipp showed he hadn’t lost his touch either, smoothly putting the ball through the hoop.
Shipp also drew a foul from Morris and made the free throw to complete a three-point play.
And thus began an agonizing nine minutes for Stanford.
With UCLA already up 9-0 almost three minutes in, Stanford got one point on a free throw by Haryasz.
From the field, the Cardinal, ranked No. 13 before the season but only 4-4 coming in to Thursday’s game, was dreadful, missing its first 12 shots, repeatedly turning the ball over and appearing powerless.
By the time the Cardinal finally scored from the field -- on a tear-drop jumper by Grunfeld from eight feet out on the baseline with 8:52 gone in the half -- UCLA had run up an 18-1 lead and effectively put the game away.
UCLA led by 24 in the second half, Stanford never cutting the lead to single digits.
Aaron Afflalo led the Bruins in scoring (23 points), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in rebounding (12) and Darren Collison in assists (eight).
And everybody had a hand in the stifling defense.
But, as always, the stat sheet only told half the story for UCLA. Still to come: the medical report.
Said Howland: “It never seems to end for us.”
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The big hurt
Add Cedric Bozeman to the long UCLA injury report this season. The senior guard injured his left shoulder and could be out for the rest of the season. Notable UCLA injuries this season:
*--* PLAYER, POSITION INJURY Cedric Bozeman, guard shoulder Jordan Farmar, guard groin, ankle Arron Afflalo, guard quadriceps Michael Fey, center groin, ankle Ryan Hollins, center groin Lorenzo Mata, center concussion Alfred Aboya, forward knees (surgery) Josh Shipp, forward hip (surgery)