for this game

Love, Collison help UCLA rally past Oregon

Jan 25, 2008 - 7:26 AM EUGENE, Oregon (Ticker) -- Kevin Love made sure his homecoming to the state of Oregon was a success.

Hearing boos nearly every time he touched the ball, the UCLA freshman had 26 points and a season-high 18 rebounds as the seventh-ranked Bruins rallied for an 80-75 victory over Oregon in Pac-10 Conference action on Thursday.

Darren Collison added a career-high 22 points and six assists for the Bruins, who were without forwards Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Lorenzo Mata-Real as both missed the game due to a concussion.

But Love - who was a three-time player of the year in the state of Oregon as a high schooler - picked up the slack in the frontcourt, shooting 8-of-11 from the field and making both of his 3-point attempts. The freshman also helped UCLA outrebound Oregon, 36-24, for the game.

"Kevin (Love) is definitely one of the best freshman players I've coached," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "He played three straight championship games here, is from Oregon, his dad played here and so it was a special game for him. I think he's just playing with a lot of confidence right and I'm really proud of him."

However, the Bruins (17-2, 5-1 Pac-10) had to rally in this one, using an 11-0 run down the stretch to pull away.

Trailing, 71-67, late in the game, Nikola Dragovic made a 3-pointer from the right wing and Russell Westbrook had a block that led to a transition layup, giving UCLA a 72-71 lead with 2:30 remaining.

Collison then converted a pair of free throws and, after Tajuan Porter missed a 3-pointer, Love made one foul shot to give UCLA a 75-71 lead with under one minute to play.

"We just kept fighting," Love said. "We were down seven, but players stepped up, and we came up with a great outcome."

"What more can you ask for," Collison said. "He's not an average freshman. He plays like a senior. He gutted it out."

Oregon (12-7, 3-4) missed its next four shots and Westbrook made one free throw followed by two from Love to give UCLA a 78-71 advantage with 14 seconds remaining.

"We played very good basketball, our scheme was sound, and they struggled to guard our offense," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "But this team always seems to have six of seven plays where the breakdown is caused by us, and it makes the difference in the game."

Westbrook finished with 15 points for UCLA, which moved into first place in the conference with Washington State's 76-64 loss to Arizona and a 72-61 setback at home to Washington for Arizona State on Thursday.

"This was one of the best wins I've been a part of in 27 years in this business," Howland said. "It was a great game, a great win and especially with three of our seven big guys out."

The Ducks had jumped out quickly, scoring the game's first seven points 2:20 into the contest.

But UCLA battled back as Collison scored seven straight points to give the Bruins an 18-15 lead with 10:15 left in the first half.

Despite the raucous crowd, Love had 14 points and nine rebounds in the first half as the Bruins held a slim 40-36 advantage at the break.

"All of my family and friends were here, and all the people who hate me for not going to Oregon were here," Love said. "It was a pretty good atmosphere. They have a great crowd. Getting a win here is definitely big."

The Ducks came out strong in the second half, scoring the first five points to take a 41-40 advantage.

The lead changed hands five times by the five-minute mark of the second half before Oregon briefly took control when Bryce Taylor made a 3-pointer and Maarty Leunen scored a layup to give it a 58-51 bulge with 10:56 left.

Malik Hairston - who battled cramping late in the second half - had 18 points and Leunen added 16 and 10 rebounds for the Ducks, who have lost three straight games.

"It's tough to put a finger on it," Hairston said. "This losing is not acceptable. Our backs are up against the wall, and these next two games are a must win."