for this game

Collison helps UCLA survive latest scare with Washington State

Dec 29, 2006 - 9:19 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Darren Collison stepped up to continue Washington State's nightmares against UCLA.

Collison scored all 13 of his points in the second half as top-ranked UCLA continued its mastery of Washington State with a 55-52 victory in the Pac-10 Conference opener for both schools.

Arron Afflalo also scored 13 points and Josh Shipp added 11 for the Bruins (12-0), who won for the 50th time in their last 51 games at historic Pauley Pavilion against the Cougars.

Despite the lopsided record, Washington State has given UCLA fits here in recent years. Losing 63-61 last year, the Cougars have dropped the last three meetings in Southern California by a total of seven points.

"We are very fortunate to come out of this game with a win," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "If this game had been played at Pullman, (Washington), we lose. Washington State is a very tough team, a very well coached team."

"We're a little numb right now," Cougars coach Tony Bennett said. "It's frustrating. In this game, we had some free-throw opportunities and some turnovers that proved to be real costly in crunch time."

Collison, who failed to score in the first half as he was hampered by three fouls, took issues into his own hands after the break, making 4-of-8 shots - including both of his 3-pointers.

"He played his poorest game of the year in the first half, but I was never worried about him because he is such a competitor," Howland said. I knew he would come out and get us back into the game in the second half."

With Washington State grabbing a 35-26 edge in the opening three minutes of the second half, Collison helped bring UCLA back, scoring eight points over the next five minutes.

He hit a jumper to close the Bruins' deficit to 39-34 with 13:28 to play, found Afflalo in transition for a 3-pointer and shook off the team's leading scorer to hit his own shot from the arc, giving UCLA a 40-39 edge with 12:37 to play.

"After that first half, I knew I had to pick things up in the second half," Collison said. "I was into a good rhythm and getting some good shots."

It was the first lead for the Bruins since owning a 4-3 edge with 16:21 left in the opening half.

UCLA managed to push the lead to 53-47 on a 3-pointer by Michael Roll with 3:33 to play, but Washington State closed within one point on a dunk by Ivory Clark with 56 seconds left.

"We knew Washington State was going to be tough," Afflalo said. "They play possession by possession and are real patient. Even when we had a six-point lead late in the game, they came back and were right in it."

After a missed layup by Collison, the sophomore guard made up for his shortcoming on the defensive end by appearing to partially block a 3-point attempt by Derrick Low with 12 seconds to play.

"Yeah, Collison got part of it, but it was still a good look," Low said. "I really thought we had 'em tonight. I missed three free throws, and to me, that was the difference. I feel like I let the team down tonight."

"If he gives a little pump fake, that guy sails right by him," Bennett said.

Afflalo got the rebound and sank two free throws with six seconds left to seal the win for the Bruins.

Low scored 14 points and Nikola Koprivica - who missed a potential tying 3-pointer right before the buzzer - added 12 for the Cougars (11-2), who dropped to 0-25 all-time against the top-ranked team in the nation.