Thursday, January 12, 2006

UCLA 63: Wazzu 61

Well, that was a little scary. I'm starting to get the feeling that this team is cursed. You're best off staying far, far away. I almost went to a home game while I was in LA at Christmas, and now I'm thanking my lucky stars that I didn't, as I likely would have left with a broken leg and a collapsed lung. Lorenzo Mata went down with what looked like a hyperextended knee with just under four minutes to play and the Bruins still leading handily (I was at a bar watching with no sound, so I don't know if they gave an injury update), but at that point, you could see the electricity go out. It followed a missed layup, and it was a springboard to a WSU run, as they came back from a 17 point deficit in the second half.

The first half was a little ragged. The Bruins were excellent defensively, but when the game opened, it looked like everyone was trying to make up for the lack of Josh Shipp, as there were numerous ill-advised drives to the hoop. But the first half ended with the Bruins up 14. They led by 17 with just over 7 minutes to play when Wazzu became unconscious, making everything they put in the air. They led by 9 with 3:47 to go, when Mata went down, and everything went south. Josh Akognon just went nuts, and the Bruins couldn't find an answer on the offensive end. The last two minutes were nuts, as Aaron Afflalo tipped in his own missed layup for a four point lead, after which Akognon was fouled at the other end shooting a three, and made all three free throws. The Cougars either forgot to play defense at the other end, or decided their best bet was to give up a basket and take it the other way, because Darren Collison went the hoop uncontested to make it a three point lead with under 30 seconds to play. That was when the officials decided to make their mark. Aaron Afflalo tipped the ball away from Akognon, then was held going for the loose ball. Inexplicable (or rather, explained only by the utter incompetence of Pac 10 officials this season) Afflalo was whistled for the foul. Akognon made both free throws, cutting the lead back to one. At the other end, Afflalo hit one of two, after which Kyle Weaver choked on an easy layup that would have sent the game into OT. Clock ran out, Bruins won, some dude bought me a beer.

By the way, I just watched end of the Lakers game, and does Marv Albert have the world's worst hair piece or what?

Anyway, the Bruins' season basically rides on Lo Mata's health right now. Mike Roll, in my opinion, was excellent in the unexpected start, not trying to do more than he was capable of. LRMAM led the team in rebounding again, and in my opinion, the Bruins overcame some really poor officiating to hang on. But the fact is, they're running out of bodies. They need to start getting some guys healthy, and yes, that includes FeLlins, much as I hate to admit it. But a win is a win, and with Arizona's loss at OSU tonight (and boy aren't they starting to step up on their home court), the Bruins lead the conference by a half game. Tomorrow's injury report should be very interesting.

1 comment:

The Chronicler said...

explained only by the utter incompetence of Pac 10 officials every season

There, fixed that for ya ... that foul call you reference was inexcusable, though.

There was no Mata update during the game. It's bad news, of course, as he's just starting to turn on a little offense to go with his "don't-screw-up-too-often" defense.