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UCLA outlasts Texas A&M in Wooden Classic

Dec 9, 2006 - 10:26 PM ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- Josh Shipp and UCLA passed their first test of the season while Texas A&M failed again.

Shipp scored 18 points and No. 1 UCLA pulled ahead late to post a 65-62 victory over sixth-ranked Texas A&M at the John Wooden Classic.

With the win, the Bruins are now 7-3 in the Classic, named for the 96-year-old Hall of Fame coach. Wooden spent 27 seasons at UCLA and won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including an unprecedented seven in a row (1967-1973).

In his fourth season as UCLA coach, Ben Howland is doing his best to emulate Wooden and has the Bruins (8-0) off to their best start since opening the 1993-94 season with 14 straight victories.

"This was just two teams really battling on the national stage," Howland said. "I feel really good that we were able to pull out the win. That's one of the most physical games I can remember."

UCLA entered the game coming off three consecutive wins over Big West opponents and had their hands full with Texas A&M. The Bruins led, 33-27, at the half but were unable to pull away after the break.

The Aggies tied the game, 54-54, when Joseph Jones converted a three-point play with 6:42 to play. The Bruins responded with a 9-2 run over the next five minutes to take control.

Arron Afflalo was fouled on a 3-pointer but made only one free throw to give the Bruins the lead for good, 55-54, with 6:29 remaining. Shipp pushed the lead to 57-54 with a layup 20 seconds later.

"I think I may have been out of rhythm a bit with the foul trouble early," said Afflalo, who ended with 13 points despite three fouls. "But we've got so many weapons on this team, that's going to prove to be irrelevant over the course of this year."

"There were a lot of big-time plays late," Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie said. "Congratulations to UCLA for an incredible victory."

Despite the decisive push by UCLA, Texas A&M still had a chance to tie the game on a 3-point shot by Jones with 25 seconds left.

"He's a good shooter, so we were fortunate that didn't go in," Howland said.

"I felt like I was open and Coach says when you're open, shoot the open shot," said Jones, who finished with 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

Darren Collison scored 15 points, connecting on 3-of-4 3-pointers, for the Bruins, who shot 49 percent (25-of-51), including 7-of-15 from the arc.

The Aggies started the season with seven straight wins but were coming off a 64-52 loss at No. 9 Louisiana State on Tuesday.

Acie Law IV scored 21 points for Texas A&M (7-2), which fell to 2-20 all-time against the Pac-10 and has not beaten a team from that conference since a 69-65 win over Washington in the second round of the 1982 NIT.

"We both had opportunities to make plays," Law said. "But they made plays when we didn't and we lost the game. I just wanted to make enough plays to help my team win and I didn't."