UCLA puts end to it early

Times Staff Writer

This game was over so quickly.

When Chase Budinger missed his first layup, when Jordan Hill missed his, and when Budinger shot an airball, UCLA was saying no way.

When Jerryd Bayless couldn’t dribble right or left without finding Darren Collison’s arms entwined with his, without feeling Russell Westbrook’s breath in his ear, UCLA was saying go away.

UCLA beat Arizona, 82-60, Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. The fifth-ranked Bruins (20-2, 8-1) emphatically knocked the Wildcats out of their four-game winning streak and kept hold of a one-game lead over Stanford at the halfway point of the Pacific 10 Conference season. It was UCLA’s biggest margin of victory in the series since March 10, 1983, when the Bruins won, 111-58, at home.


The Bruins have just played their best two games of the season and that’s according to a very tough critic, Coach Ben Howland.

“That was a really fine win over an outstanding team,” said Howland, whose team has defeated Arizona six consecutive times. “We played our best two games back to back that we have all year.”

Counting last Saturday’s 85-62 win over Oregon State and Thursday’s 84-51 win over Arizona State, the Bruins have outscored three conference opponents, 251-173.

“We were thoroughly outplayed, outcoached, outhustled,” Arizona Coach Kevin O’Neill said. “They went after us from the beginning to the end.”

The Wildcats (15-7, 5-4) had come to Pauley with some acquired confidence and a computer ranking as the seventh-best team in the country.

They left quietly. Bayless, their highly acclaimed freshman point guard, had 13 points. Budinger, who was averaging 18.2 points, finished with nine, a testament Howland said, to the committed defense of junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.


Mbah a Moute ended up leaving the court on crutches after rolling his left ankle late. The preliminary diagnosis was a sprain and no fracture but so convincing was UCLA’s victory that no one was downcast about yet another injury.

“Luc will be back, don’t worry,” said Westbrook, who finished with a career-high 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting.

UCLA freshman center Kevin Love had 26 points and 11 rebounds. Fifteen points came in an emphatic first half when the Bruins moved relentlessly ahead -- 12-5, 19-6, 23-8, 33-16 and 42-22 by halftime. Collison had 12 points, seven assists and one turnover. Josh Shipp had 13 points, five rebounds and four steals.

“Everybody is playing unselfishly,” Shipp said. “Everyone is looking to make the right plays at the right time.”

Shipp even held his temper when Budinger checked him hard on his way to the basket on a fastbreak with 6:22 left. An intentional foul was called and Shipp gave Budinger an angry stare. “Unnecessary,” Shipp said of the hard foul. “That’s all I’ll say. We have them one more time. It is what it is.”

With less than nine minutes left in the first half, Arizona had made only two of 12 shots (16.7%) and UCLA stormed to a 23-8 lead. At least four times the Bruins ran the 35-second shot clock down under five seconds and scored. Twice it was because Collison found Love. The first time Love scored a layup, the second time he got fouled and made two free throws.


The atmosphere was raucous, coach John Wooden was in his seat for the first time in almost two months and the crowd was on its feet when UCLA left for its halftime rest.

There was no hint of an Arizona comeback in the second half either. The Wildcats never got closer than 19 points. When Love outmuscled two Arizona players to put in an Alfred Aboya miss with 4:58 left, the Bruins led, 80-48, and Love bellowed.

Howland had a checklist of what made him happy afterwards.

“I thought our defense in the first half was outstanding,” he said. “Shipp did a great job of help defense on the weak side. Luc did a great job defensively on Budinger. Kevin had an unbelievable game and his teammates did a great job of feeding him the ball.

“Darren had another big-time game. Seven assists, one turnover.” And for the weekend, Howland tallied up Collison’s total -- 16 assists, two turnovers. “We like that,” Howland said.