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UCLA overcomes early deficit, beats Davidson

Dec 9, 2007 - 4:06 AM ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- Davidson put another scare into one of the nation's powerhouse programs but still came away with another loss.

The Wildcats opened up a big early lead but could not hold off No. 8 UCLA as the Bruins posted a 75-63 victory in the Wooden Classic on Saturday.

The Bruins were coming off their first defeat of the season, a 63-61 setback to then-No. 8 Texas. The defeat knocked UCLA from the No. 1 spot in the polls.

Early on it looked like UCLA was heading for a second straight defeat as Davidson raced out to a 32-14 lead. The Bruins used a 15-0 run to get back into the game and were down by only 34-30 at the break.

"I am very, very glad we came out of there with a win and we knew this was going to be a very difficult team to play and a veteran group," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "They are a tough team and they have been playing some of the best teams in the country. This is a team that is really very well-coached team."

UCLA went on an 8-3 run to start the second half and take a 38-37 lead. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Russell Westbrook each hit 3-pointers in the run.

"That's two games in a row that we have fallen behind by 16 and 18 points. We'd like to avoid that in the future," Howland said. "We have to do a better job at both ends of the floor. Overall I am pleased about our comeback. One thing I have said about this team is they never quit and never stop believing in ourselves and each other."

Mbah a Moute scored 21 points for UCLA, which had five players reach double figures. Josh Shipp had 15 points and Westbrook added 14.

Shipp gave the Bruins the lead for good with a 3-pointer from the wing that made it 43-41.

"I don't think we are coming out ready to play, but the guys have a never-quit attitude," Shipp said. "We came in to the locker room at halftime and we made some adjustments and then came out in the second half and started executing."

The balanced attack was nothing new for the Bruins, who entered the game with four starters averaging in double figures. Freshman center Kevin Love, who was leading the team at 17.3 points per game, had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

UCLA continued to put some distance between itself and the upstart from the Southern Conference, which continues to play big-name teams tough but without posting a win.

The Wildcats lost to top-ranked North Carolina by four and to No. 7 Duke by six. They have not posted a victory over a top-25 team since the 1973-74 season.

"We didn't come here to play it close. We came to win the game. We prepared to win it, we had the mind-set to win it but we didn't. We got out-fought," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "I think we have learned a lot of lessons that we would not have learned had we not played these games. We can take home the idea of tough-minded defense."

Sophomore Stephen Curry, who entered the game ranked second in the nation in scoring at 26.0 points per game, led Davidson with 15 points but was just 6-of-20 from the field.

"Westbrook did a great job on me," Curry said. "He contested my shots and got a body on me. He offset my footwork and I was pretty tired. He made it tough all night to keep me from getting my shot off."

"I tried to make it as tough as I could to keep pressure on him (Curry)," Westbrook said. "I was just trying to keep it as tough as I could when he tried to get his shot."