March 9, 2007

Slumping Bruins Drop Another

UCLA picked the wrong time of the season to play its worst basketball. The Bruins fell in the opening round of the Pac-10 tournament on Thursday to eighth seeded California, 76-69 in overtime, as Berkeley senior guard Ayinde Ubaka scored 29 points and single-handedly shot the Bears to an improbable victory.

Ubaka was clearly the best player on the floor in this one, connecting on five three-point baskets and making 9-of-12 shots from the floor overall. While his impact on the offensive end was critical, he was also able to get UCLA star guard Arron Afflalo into foul trouble and take the junior Pac-10 POY out of his rhythm early.

With Afflalo on the bench, the combination of Josh Shipp and Darren Collison could not contain Ubaka who stepped up down the stretch, scoring his team's final eight points of regulation and then adding eight more in the overtime session.

Speaking of Afflalo, it's fair to say he's never had a worse game in a Bruin uniform. Perhaps all the adulation and recognition he's received over the past week has gotten into his head, but in front of a fair contingent of NBA scouts at Staples Center, UCLA's leader simply played a rotten game.

Afflalo couldn't stop Ubaka, a man he had held to zero points in a prior meeting this season, and he himself was only able to connect on one field goal, a lay-up which opened the overtime session giving the Bruins a short-lived two point lead. Soon after, he fouled out following a 1-for-7 shooting display from the floor and even more surprising, a 1-for-4 performance at the free throw line.

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