Sunday , Mar , 19 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

UCLA holds off Alabama, advances to Sweet 16

San Diego, CA (Sports Network) – Arron Afflalo scored all 13 of his points
in the second half and UCLA advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament
with a 62-59 victory over Alabama in second-round action from the Oakland
bracket.

Jordan Farmar made five three-point field goals in an 18-point effort,
while Ryan Hollins added 12 points for the second-seeded Bruins (29-6), who
recorded their ninth straight win and reached a regional semifinal for the
first time since 2002.

UCLA will next face third-seeded Gonzaga, which moved on with a 90-80 win
over Indiana in Salt Lake City, Thursday in Oakland.

Ronald Steele netted 21 points for the 10th-seeded Crimson Tide
(18-13), which had just seven scholarship players in uniform. Jermareo
Davidson and Richard Hendrix each finished with 12 in defeat.

The Bruins led for virtually the entire game, although Alabama stayed
close throughout, partly due to some spotty free throw shooting from UCLA
down the stretch.

UCLA went just 5-of-13 from the charity stripe and missed six in a row at
one point in the second half. However, the Bruins were 9-of-25 from three-
point range, compared to just 2-of-11 by the Crimson Tide beyond the arc.

“Typically if we get out-boarded by nine and shoot 5-of-13 from the foul line
and allow someone to shoot 61 percent in the first half, we are not going to
win,” said Bruins head coach Ben Howland. “We gutted it out, found a way.”

Jean Felix, who tied an Alabama single-game record with eight triples in a
31-point performance in the Tide’s first-round triumph over Marquette,
missed all four of his long-distance tries and ended with just five points.

“Marquette played zone defense, so Felix was able to get open and in the
holes,” said Crimson Tide head coach Mark Gottfried. “But today UCLA played
more man-to-man the entire game and they did a nice job getting up into him
and crowding him. They are a very good defensive team.”

The Bruins appeared in good shape after Afflalo’s fastbreak layup off
Cedric Bozeman’s steal gave the club a 57-51 lead with 4:25 to go. After
Alabama sank a pair of free throws to close the gap to four, Hollins missed
the front end of a one-and-one and Steele converted a runner to bring the
Tide within 57-55 heading into the final two minutes.

Steele had a chance to tie the game when he drew a foul with 1:05 to go,
but could make just 1-of-2 from the stripe. UCLA then ran the clock down
before Afflalo buried a clutch three-pointer for a 60-56 lead with 35 seconds
left.

“The shot clock went down and I have no problem taking that shot,” Afflalo
remarked.

The youthful Bruins then made another costly mistake, as Darren
Collison fouled Steele from in back of the arc. The Alabama guard
knocked down all three shots to again make it a one-point game.

After UCLA’s Luc Richard Mbah a Moute missed his second free throw with
the Bruins up 61-59 with 18.8 seconds left, the Tide were given an
opportunity at a win or tie. Following a timeout, Steele came up short on a
three-point try with under five seconds to go and Bozeman grabbed the rebound.

With less than a second remaining, Bozeman made his first free throw
but missed the second. However, Alabama didn’t have enough time to get off a
final shot.

“I isolated, got the ball, and I had a good look at (the basket),” said
Steele. “But I just didn’t make the shot. Arron Afflalo plays good defense. He
cut me off of my initial move, but I was still able to get free. I thought I
had a good look when it left my hand, but it came up just a little bit short.”

The teams were deadlocked at 38-38 when Farmar’s fifth trey of the night
sent the Bruins ahead with around 15 1/2 minutes to go. UCLA was
clinging to a 46-44 lead with under 13 minutes remaining before embarking
on a 7-1 run to get some breathing room.

Afflalo followed a Mbah a Moute layup with a three-pointer and capped
the brief flurry with a fastbreak dunk off a Collison steal. The basket
gave the Bruins a 53-45 advantage with 8:22 left to play.

Unlike Thursday’s first-round win over Belmont, the Bruins started strongly
on the offensive end. Farmar, who finished with 12 first-half points, buried
two quick triples during a game-opening 8-0 run, but Alabama quickly
regrouped.

The Tide shot 61 percent during the first half and knotted the score at
30-30 at intermission after Steele made two free throws with under a minute to
go.

Game Notes

Gottfried was a UCLA assistant for seven seasons from 1988-95 and was part
of the staff of the school’s last national title in 1995…Farmar’s five
three-pointers tied a career-high set last week in UCLA’s win over California
in the Pac-10 Tournament championship…Howland reached the Sweet 16 for the
third time. His first two came while at Pittsburgh in 2002 and
2003…Alabama finished with a 30-21 rebounding advantage.

ALABAMA UCLA