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Kansas makes young errors

Times Staff Writers

Maybe Saturday’s West Regional championship game was more about experience than controlling tempo.

Kansas’ top five scorers were either freshmen or sophomores.

Only one UCLA starter, Josh Shipp, was not a part of the Bruins’ run to the championship game last year.

“We played young when we got behind,” Kansas Coach Bill Self said. “Not young from a standpoint of defense, you know, breaking down, that kind of stuff. Not young because we’re trying to make five-point plays or 10-point plays. Just young, over-penetrating, guys wanting to go do it so bad.”

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This was the fourth time Self has reached the Elite Eight without pushing through to the Final Four.

He led Tulsa to the brink in 2000, Illinois in 2001 and Kansas in 2004 and this year.

“This isn’t about me, it’s about them,” Self said. “But from my standpoint, you know, it hurts. You know I really felt like this was our year.... I’m not saying a year to win it all, but I really felt like we were the best equipped team to make a strong run. And we did. It just wasn’t good enough.”

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Kansas and UCLA combined for 46 turnovers and 32 steals.

“I can’t remember a game ever where I’ve been in a game where there’s been 32 steals,” UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. “We were fortunate to be able to win with 25 turnovers. Truly, truly amazing. Fortunately they had 21.”

Kansas coaches and players are going to have nightmares after reviewing the game’s facts and figures.

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Kansas scored a season-low 55 points, which you could credit, in part, to UCLA’s defense.

But who was defending Kansas at the free-throw line? The Jayhawks made only five of 11.

The 55 points were also the fewest Kansas has scored in the NCAA tournament since the 1957 championship game. The Jayhawks would have gladly settled for 55 points in that game.

That was the year Kansas, led by Wilt Chamberlain, lost a 54-53, triple-overtime heartbreaker to North Carolina.

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Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was already planning the phone call. He hadn’t spoken to his father, Camille Moute a Bidias, for over a week.

The talking is expensive back and forth between Westwood and Cameroon, his West African home.

And this call will be special. Mbah a Moute has said all season that if UCLA made it to the Final Four again, just as the Bruins did last year when he was a freshman, his father would come to the games.

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Moute a Bidias has never seen his son play basketball in person. Not when Mbah a Moute was in high school in Florida and not in two years at UCLA. “He’s going to come to Atlanta,” Mbah a Moute said. “For sure.”

UCLA’s other sophomore from Cameroon, Alfred Aboya, said there was no chance any of his family could come to Atlanta. “My dad will cheer for both of us,” Mbah a Moute said.

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Howland is the first man since John Wooden in 1972 and 1973 to coach the Bruins to consecutive 30-win seasons.... UCLA junior Arron Afflalo was selected the West Regional’s most outstanding player and was joined on the all-regional team by his backcourt mate Darren Collison, as well as Kansas players Brandon Rush and Russell Robinson and Southern Illinois point guard Jamaal Tatum.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

diane.pucin@latimes.com


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