It is fun to read the papers after a win like last night. Sure it seems like every game UCLA has played during this Pac-10 season has been a "big" game. But it was pretty clear to everyone that last night’s win was significant because it gave the Bruins lot of momentum and set them up for making a possible run to finish up the regular season. From Dohn:
"This game means a lot," UCLA power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said. "This will boost our confidence level."
Afflalo paced the offense, but he had plenty of help as the Bruins hit open jumpers in the first half, then attacked the smaller Ducks on the inside after the break.
UCLA shot 57.1 percent (28 of 49) from the field and had four players score in double digits. Afflalo was joined by Josh Shipp (11 points), Collison (12) and Mbah a Moute (15), who also grabbed 12rebounds.
The Bruins' sloppy, lackadaisical play allowed the Ducks to close to 60-51 on Malik Hairston's follow-up dunk and free throw with 4:09 to play - and trigger memories of Sunday's blown 17-point lead in the loss at Stanford - but Mbah a Moute quickly restored order with a put-back on UCLA's next possession.
"The difference between playing 31 and 36 minutes is huge," Howland said. "It's tough when you ask guys to play too many minutes."
Mbah a Moute made the most of his time Thursday. "Look at his line," Howland said, reading off each category. "And he played great defense. He really played with a lot of passion."
Speaking of passion the entire team played with the kind of focus and energy that propelled them to memorable run last year. Arron had a great defensive performance last night, as he helped contain the leading contender for Pac-10’s MVP award to just 14 points. However, Arron was quick to point out it wasn’t just him who helped contain the Duck’s superstar, it was the entire team helping each other out:
After seeing the fire in the eyes of AA, Luc, DC and rest of the crew last night, seems like there is a good chance, we may be able to experience another euphoric ride rest of this season. Let’s hope they stay focused and keep it going.