Westside! #12 Arizona vs. #2 UCLA
Posted by Mike on January 20, 2007
Today the most important game not involving my beloved Tar Heels is on the West Coast, as two Pac-10 powerhouses, Arizona and UCLA, play in Westwood, CA. Both of these teams expected to be in the national spotlight, but neither of them expected to share it with another Pac-10 team, the surprising Oregon Ducks, who has beaten both teams in nail-biters, or as Dickie V would say, “Maalox mashers.” Both of these teams seem to be heavily reliant on their staring lineup and don’t use their bench nearly as much as ACC teams like UNC, Clemson, and the Techs (VA/GA). Arizona seems to struggle when they 1) cannot shoot from the perimeter and 2) turn the ball over. UCLA’s great defense will definitely challenge them in both these areas. UCLA is not a great shooting team, but they clean the glass like few others in the country. Unfortunately, they will be playing without their best rebounder, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Arizona will need to take advantage of this by trying to outrebound the Bruins. This could be exciting game. If I had to choose a team, I would say UCLA would win, these teams are so close and I concentrate so much in the ACC (living in Chapel Hill) that I can’t give a prediction. I will guarantee, however, that I will have fun watching.
4:02 pm: The game hasn’t even started and already a bizarre ad, Priceline Negotiator, involving Bill Shatner no less.
4:07 pm: Darren Collision and Aaron Afflalo start the scoring and take an early 4-0 lead.
4:09 pm: Radenovic and Shakur get two baskets in the halfcourt to tie the game , 4-4.
4:10 pm: Aaron Afflalo hits the three to make it 7-4, but Arizona responds by getting 2 offensive rebounds before Marcus Williams tips it in. 7-6, UCLA.
Neither team seems to be in sync; Arizona is struggling defensively, and UCLA is struggling on the boards and in ball control.
4:12 pm: Afflalo hits another three, and Lorenzo Mata gets a dunk in of a great pass, as UCLA has a 12-11, lead.
4:17 pm: Both teams seem to be struggle right now, as neither can hit a shot right now. Even Afflalo seems to be going cold. Just as I say that, a UCLA freshman hits a three to make it 15-14, UCLA.
4:20 pm: UCLA put in this gut named Keefe, and he is having an immediate impact. He hit the three, is playing well on defensive and has good hustle. I like this guy.
4:22 pm: Update on Keefe: coming into this game, he has played 7 minutes a game. Watching him today, he is taking the most advantage of Mbah a Moute’s absence. He has a Quentin Thomas quality; he looks like the kind of underrated guy who deserves more playing time off the bench.
4:27 pm: I haven;t heard much out of either point guard today. PG is such an important position; if Collison and Shakur are not playing well, this might explain the sloppy play we see on the court.
4:29 pm: Arizona is definitely outplaying the Bruins in the paint, with the exception of Oboye and a drive that Afflalo made. The Wildcats lead 20-17.
4:31 pm: Right now, both teams are playing just ugly. These are supposed to be two of the best teams in the country, I expected more out of each. Why else would I be covering this game? Shatner ads?
4:34 pm: It doesn’t seem so much that both teams are playing good defense against each other, it’s that both teams are making bad decisions that don’t seem to be forced by the opposition. For example, this guy from Arizona ( I think it was backup G Daniel Dillon) caught a pas in the fast break and overran the basket, forcing him to take a bad angle, as the basketball bounced off the backboard and then off the rim. As he reached to get the rebound, a larger UCLA forward (Aboya?) pushed him from behind and sent him to the foul line. Most of the play in this game has been just like this, as the two teams seem to be tripping over each other. Arizona seems to have the clear advantage in the boards in the absence of Mbah a Moute, and that may be why the the Wildcats are leading 25-22. I can’t seem to point to anything else they’ve done well enough.
4:40 pm: Darren Collision hits a now-rare mid range jumper to give UCLA a 26-25 lead.
4:45 pm: Here’s an interesting fact: UCLA is on an 11-0 run, leading 28-25. An even more interesting fact: they did so with me hardly noticing, even as I watch the game. Does this mean Arizona is really stinking? Hmmmm…….
4:46 pm: I have concluded that UCLA’s big run is the result of two simultaneous phenomena. First, Arizona is really stinking up the pace at this point. Second, UCLA is finally playing well; not dominating but well. Their bench is stepping up. Collison goes to the foul line and makes it 30-25, UCLA.
4:49 pm: Afflalo hits another three to make it 33-27, UCLA.
Nothing against against the crowd of UCLA, but they don’t sound very loud. Maybe I just have high expectations from a college crowd, living in Tobacco Road. I certainly expected more from a basketball dynasty.
4:52 pm: Collison gets the ball with 5 seconds left and drives it coast to coast for a layup at the buzzer to make it 35-29, UCLA.
For the first 12-13 minutes of the game, it looked like both teams were really struggling to find a rhythm. But the Bruins definitely were in control for the last 6-7 minutes of the first half. If they are able to carry that into the second half, Arizona stands little chance of winning.
DOOK UPDATE: In the battle of teams I dislike, Dook leads slightly more likable NC State 45-28 at halftime.
5:10 pm: UCLA continues to play well at the beginning of the second half (shots by Afflalo and Mata), and Arizona continues to struggle. They’re shooting only 29% so far. UCLA leads 39-32.
5:12 pm: Wow…the two announcers for this game (on Fox Sports Net) are el quesisimo. For those of you que no hablan espanol, that means they are the cheesiest. the Color commentator, Steve Carter, sounds cheesy, girly and rough at the same time. Kind of like if Mike Tyson was a weatherman. Arizona cuts the lead to 41-37.
5:15 pm: UCLA is winning because Darren Collison is playing much more effectively in this game than Shakur is for the Wildcats. Shakur really seems unsure of himself out there. UCLA’s backup guard (the Bruin’s answer to Wes Miller) hits two trifectas, and Josh Shipp finally chips in a layup to make it 49-41, UCLA.
5:17 pm: The only reason the Cats are staying in this game is because of Radenovic. He’s getting the looks inside and seems to be the only guy on his team hitting his shots. It makes me wonder why Arizona didn’t give the ball much in the first half. The Cats still trail, 49-43.
5:20 pm: I am a huge football fan, so I can;t help but wonder: what is the basketball equivalent of a turnover on downs? A shot clock violation? That seems like a delay of game to me. Actually, a delay of game should be a penalty in college basketball when the coaches call six timeouts in the final two minutes. Perhaps the two basketball teams should only be allowed 2 timeouts in the final two minutes and 1 timeout in the final minute, barring an injury. The ends of games should go a lot smoother. UCLA leads 53-45, but Mata and Aboya each have 3 fouls. The bruins cannot afford to lose a player in this game under any circumstances.
5:27 pm: Today’s trivia on FSN: “Arizona has made it to the Big Dance 22 straight times. Who has the longest streak in NCAA hisory?”
5:29 pm: Aboya gets his fourth foul, but Afflalo hit s a big shot to make it 55-46.
5:31 pm: As long as we’re discussing the Pac-10, USC has to scare the crap out of everyone they play at this point. Oregon’s only loss is to the Trojans, Arizona lost to USC, and UCLA needed a miracle shot by Afflalo to bail them out at the Galen Center. They are challenging everyone in the conference. And their getting phenom O.J. Mayo next year. They’ll be making some big waves in the near future.
5:36 pm: 56-50, UCLA. What is Lute Olson assistant doing wearing a goatee?
5:37 pm: 58-50, UCLA. Aaron Afflalo is an absolutely amazing player. He has dominated this gamw as the go-to guy in the Bruins’ offense. He could work on his free throw shooting though. That’s the second potential three point play he didn’t convert.
5:39 pm: 60-54, UCLA. Radenovic has been the hot hand today. The big guy showed some range by hitting a 16 footer.
5:42 pm: I don’t know why, but the female Bruin mascot is looking at me and dancing in the kind of seductive way that makes me uncomfortable.
5:43 pm: 62-54, UCLA. This is embarrassing. Mustafa Shakur, one of the country’s most talented guards, is being outplayed by a guy whose name sounds like the host of “Dirty Jobs” on the Discovery Channel.
5:46 pm: 66-56, UCLA. The Bruins are playing extremely well, and Arizona looks like they’ve either run out of gas or given up. Time is running out.
What the —-?!? Urkel is in the stands watching this game! What isFSN doing showing us Urkel? Surely a bigger celebrity attending the biggest sporting event in LA today.
6:00 pm: I began tuning out of the game when UCLA had a 68-60 lead with less than a minute to play; I assumed that the way Arizona was playing, they weren’t coming back. The basketball gods made me pay, as by the time I tuned back in the lead was only three, and I am now unable to tell you why. When I tune back in, again Arizona cannot hit a basket to save their souls.
6:05 pm: The game goes final: UCLA 73, Arizona 69. The Wildcats did not deserve to win this game. Maybe UCLA completely disrupted their gameplan, but Lute Olson did not change his gameplan to make it any better; he seemed to just let the game run its course, and in the end it cost them the game.