UCLA Has Devil Of Time In Arizona

What has won UCLA three regular season Pac-10 titles, what has propelled them to three straight Final Fours, is a smothering defense that shuts teams down.

What knocked them out of first place in the Pac-10 Thursday night was an Arizona State team not phased by the Bruins defense. The Sun Devils shot 60% overall, 61% from three-point range, and pulled away in the final minute to beat the Bruins 74-67.

After the game, Ben Howland and his team could not get over a borderline call made with 40 seconds left and the Bruins down just two. Darren Collison drove the lane and hit a layup that would have tied the game at 69-69, and the sound of the referees whistle looked like it meant he was going to the line for the and-one that could give UCLA the lead. Instead the officials waved it off and instead called a charge on Collison.

After the game, both Howland and Collison said they thought the player that drew the charge was moving.

On the inbound play after the foul call, Alfred Aboya was called for a technical when he reached out and slapped the ball out of the Arizona State’s player’s hand on the sideline, before the ball had even been inbounded. That was pretty much the end for the Bruins.

If UCLA had gotten out of Tempe with a win, it would not have been an earned one. The Sun Devils simply outplayed the Bruins most of the night.

Arizona State raced out to a 12-point lead hitting five three pointers in the first 10 minutes UCLA though played their best ball, and best defense, the rest of the first half and went into the locker room tied at 35-35 after Michael Roll hit a dramatic three-pointer at the buzzer.

In the second half the Sun Devils continued to shoot lights out, and in the end five Arizona State players finished in double digits scoring. They also out rebounded the Bruins all night, 24-18 in the final tally.

Josh Shipp led the Bruins with 16, while Collison and Roll each chipped in 15.

The Bruin loss dropped them to 8-3 in Pac-10 play, that coupled with a Washington win puts the Huskies on top of a tight Pac-10 race. That parity in the league, with teams knocking each other off, may mean lower seeds than Pac-10 teams are used to come the NCAA Tournament next month.

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