Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bruins Escape vs Texas A&M

Coming into the NCAA Tournament, I made mention to several friends and acquaintances that I was little worried about my UCLA Bruins, even though they had won 10 straight games. Five of their final six wins prior to the tournament were nail-biters, but the bottom line is they did manage to win. Perhaps this adversity served them well this afternoon at the Honda Center in Anaheim as they took on Texas A&M. The Bruins got up early by a 15-9 margin, and led 24-19 with 5:45 to play in the first half. They then just went ice cold from the field, getting outscored 10-2 to end the half and 7-0 to begin the second half. In just 7 minutes and 18 seconds, the five point Bruin lead had turned into a 36-26 deficit!

Over the next ten or so minutes, the Bruins made little headway, as the missed shots and turnovers mounted. Nonetheless, they managed to hang in there, cutting two points off the A&M lead, and trailing 44-36 with 8:43 to play. From there, the Bruins defense stiffened, and a 7-0 run over the next 2:52 got them to within a point. The Bruins committed two shooting fouls over the next 2 1/2 minutes, but A&M failed to capitalize, as they only made one of their four free-throw attempts. A Kevin Love jumper tied the game at 45 with 3:03 to play. Love made another jumper to give the Bruins the lead, but Joseph Jones made a lay-up for A&M to tie the game at 47 with 1:19 to go. Darren Collison then made a lay-up of his own with 56 seconds to play to put UCLA back up by two, but Donald Sloan came right back with a jumper to tie the game at 49 just 13 seconds later. Collision drove and scored another lay-up on the ensuing possession with just 12 seconds to play to give UCLA a 51-49 lead. Sloan then tried to drive the lane with just about five seconds to play for A&M, but Josh Shipp blocked his shot and Russell Westbrook wound up with the ball for the Bruins. Westbrook drove the length of the floor and added a slam dunk as time expired to put an exclamation point on a VERY hard-fought 53-49 Bruin victory.

**EDIT** The NCAA reviewed tape of the game and said the final scoring dunk came after time expired, so the game goes in the books as a 51-49 UCLA win.


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