for this game

Afflalo guides UCLA past top-seeded Kansas

Mar 25, 2007 - 4:46 AM SAN JOSE, California (Ticker) -- Arron Afflalo finally showed up in the NCAA Tournament and showed top-seeded Kansas the door.

Afflalo bounced back from two subpar outings to score 24 points, lifting second-seeded UCLA to a 68-55 victory over Kansas and back into the Final Four.

Making their 17th appearance in the Final Four, the West Region champion Bruins (30-5) will face either Florida or Oregon in Atlanta next Saturday. The Jayhawks (33-5) became the first No. 1 seed eliminated.

A Wooden Award candidate, Afflalo snapped out of a shooting funk to make 10-of-15 from the floor, including 6-of-6 in the second half, as the Bruins improved to 5-0 all-time in tournament play against Kansas.

"Arron's a big-time player, big-time players make important shots in big games, on the stage," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "I'm really proud of Arron. He's just so tough. You can see he's all about his team, he's all about winning.

"He was the first recruit that I recruited as the new head coach at UCLA. It's really been special to have him. He's a consensus first-team All-American. He's a big-time player. What else can you say?"

In his previous two games, Afflalo had made just 5-of-22 shots and scored 27 points, including 16 from the free-throw line. But the junior guard elevated his game in a taut defensive struggle that featured 32 steals - 17 by Kansas.

"Obviously when you're making shots, you're gaining confidence," Afflalo said. "My teammates put a lot of trust in me. But it is all about the win. If I am fortunate enough to make shots, just keep shooting, keep shooting, keep playing, there has to be a scorer's mentality."

UCLA was a model of efficiency, shooting 53 percent (24-of-45), including 10-of-17 in the second half. And the Bruins' penchant for delivering clutch shots wore down the Jayhawks, with the final possession of the first half setting the tone.

Behind back-to-back baskets by Afflalo, the Bruins went ahead to stay, 32-29. Josh Shipp then put an exclamation point on a 12-4 spurt as he buried a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer for a 35-31 lead.

Afflalo took over in the second half, scoring 14 points in the first 12 1/2 minutes. That included a 3-pointer that just beat the shot clock for a 49-40 lead and a soft layup high off that glass for a 53-45 advantage with 7:43 remaining.

Kansas got as close as 55-50 on a 3-pointer by Russell Robinson. However, UCLA point guard Darren Collison answered on the ensuing possession, hitting a demoralizing shot from the arc with two defenders in his face as the shot clock expired with 4:42 left.

He started to make some big threes for them, driving to the hole," Jayhawks swingman Brandon Rush said of Afflalo. "He was real big for them tonight, and Collison, he hit that big step back three with two guys in his face, that pretty much sealed the deal for us."

"We made two incredibly tough shots ... there were actually three," Howland said. "Arron made an unbelievably tough three, then he made a flyer driving down the lane high off the glass that kissed way high and got in. Then Darren's shot was, you know, unbelievable. It was from deep. Those are backbreakers."

Collison added 14 points and five steals, but he also committed seven of the Bruins' 25 turnovers.

"Everybody played hard throughout the whole game," Collison said. "Kansas is a really good team. We think Kansas is the best team in this tournament. And we just played our butts off."

Rush scored 18 points and Robinson added 11 and five steals for the Jayhawks, who were plagued by an inability to finish plays, connecting on just 14-of-33 layups and dunks.

"We played a very, very good team today, a team that can win it all," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "I thought for the first 15 minutes we played very, very well. Missed a lot of shots, but got the ball where we wanted to get it. And then the last 25 minutes of the game, I felt like they controlled the game.

"Certainly, you know, we missed some bunnies, but certainly I think their presence had something to do with that."

  • 71
    sammyja Added 5 roots

    UCLA vs. KansasMar 25 5:59 PM
  • katieb ball in the basket- that is the point of basketball, kansas. thought that was a given.

    UCLA vs. KansasMar 24 9:18 PM

    --- --- -----
    UCLA 35 33 68
    KANSAS 31 24 55 FINAL

    Mar 24 9:18 PM
  • 66
    bones Added 5 roots

    UCLA vs. KansasMar 24 8:57 PM
  • katieb what is wrong with kansas?!?!?!?!?!

    UCLA vs. KansasMar 24 8:55 PM

    NCAA BB (2) UCLA 35

    Mar 24 7:57 PM
  • 61
    RUWTbot Added 61 roots

    UCLA vs. KansasMar 24 7:06 PM