The early start time (9:00 a.m. PST) looked to affect UCLA out of the gate in Ann Arbor, Mich., but the Bruins rebounded with a big second half run and hung on late for a 68-61 victory. The backcourt tandem of Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar led UCLA to the win thanks to stellar three-point shooting and a fantastic defensive game plan from head coach Ben Howland.
Afflalo (6-5, 205) was the story for the Bruins in the first half, converting five three-point field goals and keeping the Bruins within striking distance despite starting the game by going scoreless in the first 5:00 and 0-8 from the field. UCLA rebounded and converted five of their next six field goal attempts behind Afflalo who hit four three-pointers in that span and scored 14 of the Bruins' first 16 points in the game.
Farmar, a 6-2 point guard, took the game on his shoulders in the second half, creating scoring opportunities via hustle plays on the defensive end of the floor and converting baskets on offense. He led the Bruins with 21 points in the game with Afflalo chipping in 20 and five assists.
Michigan went on a 13-0 run at the end of the first half and beginning of the second to take a six-point lead before Farmar hit a triple 2:30 into the second stanza. The Bruin point continued to spark UCLA in the early going of the second half, leading a couple fast breaks and picking off a pass he converted with a dunk on the offensive end to tie the game at 41 at the 14:30 mark. A flurry of turnovers led to a 3:00 scoreless span until Afflalo hit his sixth triple of the game at the 11:30 mark to give UCLA their first lead of the second half.
UCLA would continue that hot streak, going on a 20-3 run in a seven-minute span in the second half to take a 13-point lead with just over seven minutes left in the game. Michigan countered with their own run of 12-2 to pull the game within seven points and eventually got it down to a four-point game, but UCLA held tough defensively and came up with big offensive rebounds in the final minutes to secure their lead.
Despite Afflalo's career high in three-point field goals (six) and Farmar's clutch play in the second half, the story of the game may have been defensively for Coach Howland's squad. Michigan's leading scorer, Courtney Sims, who had a 33-point game earlier in the week, was held without a field goal attempt in the first half because of the Bruins effective double team whenever he touched the ball. The Wolverines helped out by missing 12 of their first 13 three-point attempts.
Nevertheless, Michigan had a 34-32 lead at halftime and moved that to a six-point lead early in the second half before Farmar started to take over offensively. The Wolverines were sparked by senior center Chris Hunter off the bench who led his team with 15 points and pitched in six rebounds.
For UCLA, their spark came from freshman guard Darren Collison (6-0, 155) who scored seven points and used his quickness to open up plays for his teammates in the second half. Another freshman, Ryan Wright (6-8, 230) also came off the bench to convert a couple lay-ins on the fast break and lead the Bruins with eight rebounds and chipping in eight points.
Despite senior center Michael Fey (7-0, 270) being sidelined for most of the game with an injury and the continued absence of sophomore forward Josh Shipp, the Bruins owned the interior on both sides of the floor and held Sims to six points for the game and fellow starter Graham Brown to just two. That effort combined with the hot shooting of Farmar and Afflalo boosts the Bruins record to 8-1 and should move them up in the national rankings from their current spot at No. 14.
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