It’s not often that the visiting team holds a decided advantage in free throws, but Arizona State got to the line more than twice as much as UCLA did on Saturday afternoon.
And the Sun Devils took advantage, making 14 of 17 foul shots on their way to a 61-58 upset victory at Pauley Pavilion.
Arizona State guard James Harden played a big role in the discrepancy, drawing fouls by attacking the basket, making seven of nine free throws. UCLA, settling for too many outside shots, was seven of eight.
“He’s a crafty player,” UCLA forward Josh Shipp said of Harden. “He does a great job of getting to the line, getting foul calls from the ref.”
Not so long ago, Ben Howland referred to guard Darren Collison as the fittest player in the Pacific 10 Conference. On Saturday, the UCLA coach wondered if he should have given Collison and the other starters more rest during the game.
“We were really worn down by the end,” Howland said.
Averaging almost 31 minutes a game this season, Collison played 42 against Arizona State, with Shipp spending equal time on the floor.
Collison was asked if fatigue contributed to the team’s string of missed shots down the stretch.
“It’s not an excuse for us, especially me,” he said. “We’ve been in this situation plenty of times where we have to dig deep.
“I had some good looks that went in and out,” he said. “What can I do?”
Who’s the man?
Arizona State Coach Herb Sendek said he wasn’t feeling too confident with the score tied in regulation and Collison taking the last shot.
“He’s a brilliant player and when he had the ball on the last possession, I had visions of how many times he has hit game-winning shots in his career,” Sendek said.
UCLA’s inability to score at the end -- as former star Kevin Love watched from the stands -- reinforced the notion that neither Collison, averaging 14.9 points a game, nor any other Bruin has stepped forward as a go-to player this season.
“This year is more of a team concept,” center Alfred Aboya said. “All we’ve got to do is screen or create some kind of situation where we’re going to get a mismatch.”
But, he added, “today was kind of hard.”
UCLA up next
Thursday at Washington State, 6 p.m., Friel Court, Prime Ticket: The Bruins try to rebound on a swing through Washington,
starting with a Cougars team that has won three straight conference games.
-- David Wharton