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Love leads an easy exhibition victory

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Times Staff Writer

Russell Westbrook started at point guard in place of the injured Darren Collison for UCLA in Monday night’s exhibition against Chico State, a Division II team, at Pauley Pavilion.

It took Westbrook 23 seconds to find the sure hands of freshman center Kevin Love.

That will be a good move for anybody who starts at the point for the second-ranked Bruins this season.

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Even with three of their top six players -- Collison (sprained knee), Josh Shipp (sprained thumb) and Michael Roll (foot) sitting on the bench, the Bruins were not severely tested in their 93-55 win.

Love had 23 points and 10 rebounds -- that’s two double-doubles in two games -- plus two assists.

Twice Love nearly dunked his defender through the net along with the basketball and drew approval from many of the Pauley crowd of 6,463 for diving onto the floor for loose balls even if Coach Ben Howland winced as Love got up rubbing a wrist or stretching his neck.

And Love was nine for 12 from the free-throw line.

It was rough Love said. “It was like hack-a-Shaq out there for me,” he said.

Howland started Westbrook and 6-foot-9 sophomore Nikola Dragovic at guard; the Cameroonian pair of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya at forward; and Love at center to make up for the missing Collison and Shipp. And freshman Chace Stanback and walk-on Mustafa Abdul-Hamid played more minutes than they can hope for if the Bruins get healthy.

“We had a good first half,” Howland said. “We forced a lot of turnovers that gave us a really nice lead.”

Westbrook made nine of 12 shots for 22 points and other aspects of his game pleased Howland.

“I thought he did a good job defensively,” Howland said. “He had a lot of deflections. You could see what a difference a year makes.”

Howland said he is hopeful Shipp can play Friday. He said it was doubtful Collison would play.

The team’s aerobic conditioning also isn’t where Howland would prefer.

“Alfred was winded out there, the entire team was. I’m responsible for that,” he said. “We’ve got to do more running. I think this is an all-time low [number of preseason practices]. We still have to put in sideline out of bounds plays . . . put in another one of our zone offenses.”

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Collison was named to the Associated Press’ preseason All-American team. Also named were North Carolina junior forward Tyler Hansbrough, Georgetown senior center Roy Hibbert, Tennessee senior guard Chris Lofton and Michigan State senior guard Drew Neitzel.

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Sophomore forward James Keefe, who has been recovering from shoulder surgery since last August, was taking jump shots with Aboya about three hours before the game.

Keefe hopes to be cleared to begin non-contact practice drills next week.

One of the loudest cheers of the night came when Abdul-Hamid made a 23-foot three-point shot in the first half. Abdul-Hamid scored twice last season as a freshman.

Another loud ovation came when former Bruins point guard Jordan Farmar was shown on camera. Farmar, in his second season in the NBA, wore a Lakers sweat shirt.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com


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