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Collison returns as UCLA dumps George Washington

Nov 29, 2007 - 7:14 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Darren Collison had a successful return to the nation's top club.

Collison scored 14 points as No. 1 UCLA cruised past George Washington, 83-60, on Wednesday.

Missing the Bruins' first six games of the season due to a left knee sprain, Collison started slowly but had no issues with his leg as the Pac-10 power continued its undefeated start at 7-0.

"I focused on pushing off on it and playing as hard as I can," Collison said about the knee. "There were no issues, especially once I got into the flow of the game."

Sophomore guard Russell Westbrook, who filled in at the point for Collison, overshadowed the junior's return, finishing with a career-high 19 points along with eight assists and seven rebounds.

"Russell has played outstanding, from the first game until now," Collison said. "His confidence is sky high."

Freshman Kevin Love once again was outstanding for UCLA, notching his fourth double-double in his seventh career game with 11 points and 11 boards.

Kept out of the starting lineup, Collison made just one of his first four field-goal attempts, but did convert 5-of-6 free throws as the Bruins took a 44-35 lead at the half.

In the second half, the lightning-quick point guard scored six straight points for his team to push the Bruins' lead to 60-39 with 13:11 remaining.

Collison's burst was part of an 18-4 spurt that opened up the second half. Josh Shipp had eight points during the run, including a pair of 3-pointers.

"I'm really pleased with this win," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "I think that was a good team we beat tonight; a team that's been to the NCAA Tournament three years in a row. We got off to a really good start but let up a bit toward the end of the half.

"We did a good job attacking the press in the second half. We also handled the ball well and kept the amount of turnovers down against their pressure."

Collison finished 4-of-9 from the field and had five assists without a turnover in 26 minutes.

"It was really good to have Darren Collison out there," Howland said. "He made a lot of progress since the beginning of the week. It was amazing to see how great he did, having not played a game in 26 days. We're excited to have him back because he's such a great athlete."

It was definitely more playing time than Collison expected.

"I was surprised," he said. "I was not supposed to play so many minutes but Coach left me out there."

Shipp chipped in 15 points for UCLA, which shot 51 percent (28-of-55) and scored 22 points off of 19 turnovers by George Washington.

Miles Beatty scored 12 points and Maureece Rice added 11 for the Colonials (2-2).

    --- --- -----
    GEO WASHINGTON 35 25 60
    UCLA (1) 44 39 83 FINAL

    Nov 29 12:39 AM

    (1) UCLA 44 HALFTIME

    Nov 28 11:32 PM