UCLA sends Pitt packing in ugly win

Posted: March 23, 2007

SAN JOSE, Calif. - For a city that prides itself on glamour and glitz, Los Angeles might have a tough time getting used to this UCLA basketball team.

The Bruins play neither pretty nor flashy. What they do is win, and that's what it's all about, after all.

They won again last night, 64-55, over Pittsburgh, in a West Regional semifinal at HP Pavilion. UCLA (29-5) will face Kansas in the regional final tomorrow.

This one - especially in the second half - had all the fluidity of a drunk trying to recite the alphabet. Consider the teams combined for just six field goals in the first 10 1/2 minutes, and for the half, generated 14 turnovers and shot 17-for-50 (34 percent) from the floor.

For Pittsburgh to have a chance in this game, it needed a big game from 7-foot center Aaron Gray, as UCLA's inside game is very limited. But Gray could never get going, finishing with 10 points and six rebounds.

"Our defense in the post was great on Gray," said UCLA coach Ben Howland. "We can't handle him one-on-one. He's a great post player. But we doubled on him really quick."

The guard play for UCLA did get it done as Arron Afflalo again led the Bruins with 17 points and Josh Shipp added 16. Afflalo and fellow guard Darren Collison (12 points) scored 12 of the team's final 14 points to put away the Panthers (29-8).

UCLA is looking to make back-to-back Final Four appearances for the first time since 1975 and '76.

Pitt, which was making its fourth Sweet 16 appearance in six seasons, hit a flurry of threes toward the end. A 12-point UCLA lead was cut to five at 56-51 with 1:22 left, but Afflalo and Collison supplied what little prettiness there was in closing out the game.

"Both teams know each other so well, so we knew what to expect," said Shipp. "It was the war we thought it would be."

And an ugly one. *

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