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Second-half burst leads UCLA past Long Beach State

Nov 29, 2006 - 5:50 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- UCLA showed why it's considered a contender to return to the national title game.

Josh Shipp scored 21 points and the second-ranked Bruins opened the second half with a big run to post an 88-58 victory over Long Beach State.

Arron Afflalo added 20 points for UCLA (5-0), which was coming off a championship in the Maui Invitational.

The Bruins found themselves in an unexpectedly tight game at the half, leading, 41-36, after the 49ers rallied from a 14-point deficit.

The second half was another story as UCLA turned it into a runaway with a 15-0 burst in a span of 3 1/2 minutes.

Afflalo scored six points and Shipp buried a 3-pointer as the Bruins opened a commanding 56-36 lead with 16:32 to play.

"We didn't have the effort in the first half and coach let us know at halftime," Afflalo said. "He was pretty upset with us. There's been a lot of hoopla around campus about us ... But at the half we decided we didn't want to discuss it anymore. We had to go out and play hard.

"Long Beach has a good team and if they get it going, they can hang around and beat you. The second half, especially at the start, was all about effort."

The Bruins seemed like they would break the game open early when Shipp hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 34-20 lead with just over 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half.

Long Beach State didn't fold, though, and Sterling Byrd and Tim Island led a 14-2 run that cut the deficit to 36-34.

"Long Beach played a great first half," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "They crushed us on the boards. I think they had us down by 11 (rebounds) at the half. If we had not shot so well from the 3-point line and hadn't taken care of the ball, we could have been down at halftime.

Afflalo halted the 49ers' comeback by nailing a 3-pointer and a jumper to give the Bruins the 41-36 halftime advantage.

"The first half, UCLA did what good teams normally do," Long Beach State coach Larry Reynolds said. "When playing on the edge like that, you can't give a team like that too much. They really came out and took control in the second half."

The Bruins continued to pour it on as Russell Westbrook came off the bench to hit three in a row from the arc to extend the cushion to 67-45 with 12:07 remaining.

UCLA made 13-of-26 3-pointers, including 6-of-9 by Shipp.

"I was moving a lot without the ball in the first half and was getting open looks," Shipp said. "It felt good to knock them down. I'm always comfortable when I get into a nice rhythm and tonight I had it."

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