UCLA making it a habit

  • Follow

PHOENIX --- Surprise, surprise. UCLA is back in the Final Four.

UCLA coach Ben Howland holds up the net after the Bruins dominated Xavier to reach the Final Four.  Associated Press
Associated Press
UCLA coach Ben Howland holds up the net after the Bruins dominated Xavier to reach the Final Four.

After flirting with trouble for two rounds, the top-seeded Bruins blitzed Xavier, 76-57, Saturday to earn their third consecutive trip to the Final Four and record 18th overall.

Freshman Kevin Love scored 19 points, had 10 rebounds and was picked as the Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional. Behind him, the Bruins (35-3) rediscovered the game that had made them a No. 1 seed.

It's the Bruins' longest string of Final Four appearances since they closed the John Wooden era with nine trips in a row and added a 10th consecutive trip in 1976 under his successor, Gene Bartow.

UCLA plays the Memphis-Texas winner in the national semifinal in San Antonio on Saturday.

At times against Xavier, Ben Howland's Bruins looked every bit as dominant as Wooden's finer squads, annihilating a proud Musketeers (30-7) team that had set a school record for victories.

The knock on UCLA is that it often gets complacent with a big lead. Not this time.

Leading by nine at halftime, the Bruins snuffed out third-seeded Xavier's comeback hopes with a 14-0 run early in the second half.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Darren Collison added 19 points for UCLA, which shot 53.8 percent from the floor.

Derrick Brown had 13 points for Xavier.

This matched Xavier's deepest foray into the NCAA brackets. The Musketeers had reached the regional final once before, in 2004.

UCLA came in with a 13-game winning streak, but the Bruins had not been dominant, especially in their past two tourney games. They sweated out a two-point victory over No. 9-seeded Texas A&M in the second round and nearly blew a 21-point lead against 12th-seeded Western Kentucky in the third.

After the too-tight victory over the Hilltoppers, Love called the Bruins' play "unacceptable."

It wasn't much better early on against Xavier. After turning the ball over a season-high 19 times in the third round, the Bruins had 10 turnovers in the first half on Saturday.

But the Musketeers only scored two points off those turnovers -- and it cost them when UCLA finally settled down.


Top headlines

Disc golf tournament benefits Augusta charity

APPLING — When Paul Childs runs a disc golf tournament, he wants it to mean something for the rest of the community. Childs he found a cause worth supporting: the Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Search Augusta jobs