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Afflalo, UCLA start slowly before topping UC Riverside

Dec 4, 2006 - 12:56 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Arron Afflalo and his teammates only needed one strong push to down UC Riverside.

Afflalo scored seven of his 13 points after intermission as second-ranked UCLA overcame a sluggish first half for a 61-38 victory over the Highlanders.

Improving to 3-0 in the all-time series, the Bruins (6-0) continued their undefeated start as they prepare for a matchup against No. 8 Texas A&M in the Wooden Classic next weekend. Prior to that meeting, UCLA will square off against Cal-State Fullerton on Tuesday.

Shooting 44 percent (11-of-25) in the first half, the Bruins found themselves leading just 26-16 at the break. The low score was intentional as the Highlanders did a good job of controlling the tempo.

"We were a little anxious early," UCLA coach Ben Howland said of the slow start. "We wanted to run, but it was tough because they were very patient on offense. They worked the clock and I expected that."

"It was pretty frustrating to play a team that wants to slow it up," said sophomore point guard Darren Collison, who finished with six points and four assists. "We have a lot of guys who want to get out and run. Coach was telling us we just had to keep up our defensive intensity."

That halftime advantage was cut to six points as UC Riverside's Henrik Thomsen hit a jumper and Christian Soto had a layup in the opening moments of the second half.

The slim lead woke up UCLA, as the Pac-10 Conference team responded with a 12-2 burst that gave it a 38-22 advantage on a 3-pointer by Josh Shipp with 12:50 remaining. Afflalo hit a shot from the arc and a jumper during the spurt.

"He had some fast-break opportunities and took advantage of them," Howland said of the decisive run. "We also did a great job of rebounding during that stretch."

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 12 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and Shipp scored all 10 of his points in the second half for the Bruins, who finished with a 38-14 advantage in points in the paint.

"We played a really good team," UC Riverside interim coach Vonn Webb said. "We gave them too many opportunities under the basket and missed too many shots. We have a long way to go."

Lorenzo Mata scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots for UCLA, which finished 55 percent (26-of-47) from the field, but converted just 7-of-14 free throws.

"Our foul shooting is still a problem, but I think it is something that will work itself out," Howland said.

Thomsen scored eight points and Justin Bell chipped in seven for the Highlanders (3-5), who shot 30 percent (15-of-50) and were outrebounded, 39-22.

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