Friday, March 16, 2007

One Down, Five To Go


It wasn't the 50 point win I was hoping for, but I'll settle for 28.

Another slow start. UCLA led by only one with eight minutes remaining in the first half. But Michael Roll, slumping lately, hit two consecutive three pointers that set off a 22-5 run to end the first half, and the game was essentially over at that point.

Apparently Darren Collison is feeling OK. His numbers were good, but not eye-popping. 14 points, 8 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers. But the number that should catch your eye, especially in a 28 point blowout, is 32, as in minutes. I've gotta think the ankle felt fine if Ben Howland was willing to leave him in that long. Josh Shipp's thumb appears to be OK as well. He finished with 12 points on 5-10 shooting (2-4 from long range). But if UCLA is going to make a deep run, their best player needs to be their best player, and last night Arron Afflalo was exactly that, finishing with 22 points in 32 minutes, to go along with 8 rebounds (though I'd like to see him cut down on the 3 turnovers). He struggled early, but found his stroke as the game winning, finishing 8-15 from the field, and 3-5 from beyond the arc.

In an apparent homage to Cade McNown, Lorenzo Mata recovered from a bit of an upset stomach (not that you would have known it if all you had was the TV broadcast), puking up his lunch before returning to the court and throwing down a couple of dunks on his way to 6 points and 7 rebounds.

Indiana awaits, after having taken care of Gonzaga, which means no rematch of last year's regional semi-final. I've watched Indiana a few times this year, and quite frankly, I'm not particularly impressed. DJ White is a very good player, and he's pretty polished offensively, but he's not particularly tall. I think the Bruins can cover him with one guy, at least when Mata is on the floor. Mata's strong lower body should be able to keep White from the rim. That's going to be important, because if they're forced to double team, it will leave the perimeter open for Indiana's good long range shooters. UCLA is a better team, but this is certainly a game they're capable of losing.


Virginia Tech awaits the Illini tonight. Haven't seen them play, but they seem to have a strange habit of beating very good teams (they took out UNC twice), and losing to mediocre teams (Florida State, NC State twice, Clemson). That's great news for Illinois, because the Illini are all kinds of mediocre.

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