Saturday , Mar , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Bruins and Tigers tangle in Oakland Regional final

(Sports Network) – A spot in the Final Four awaits the winner of
tonight’s NCAA Tournament Oakland Regional final featuring the second-seeded
UCLA Bruins and the top-seeded Memphis Tigers. The survivor of this bout will
move on to face either LSU or Texas in the Final Four a week from tonight.

The Bruins’ road to this Elite Eight game hasn’t been easy, despite a
convincing 78-44 victory over 15th-seeded Belmont in the first round of
the tourney. Following that win, UCLA narrowly beat 10th-seeded Alabama,
62-59, in the second round before pulling out a thrilling 73-71 come from
behind victory over third-seeded Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Thursday. The
team has now won its last 10 game en route to a 30-6 overall ledger. The
Bruins are no strangers to success in the NCAA Tournament, as they own an
88-32 all-time mark in this event, including a record 11 championships. This
is UCLA’s first regional final appearance since 1997.

As for Memphis, it has had a much easier path to the Elite Eight, as it has
won all three of its tournament games by double figures. The Tigers opened the
Big Dance with a 94-78 win over 16th-seeded Oral Roberts which they
followed up with a 72-56 triumph against ninth-seeded Bucknell and an 80-64
victory over 13th-seeded Bradley in the Sweet 16 on Thursday. With the string
of wins, the team improved to 22-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Memphis
has also won 22 of its last 23 games en route to a school record 33 wins on
the season. This is the Tigers’ first regional final appearance since 1992.

With regards to the all-time series, UCLA owns a 3-2 edge over Memphis,
including an 87-66 triumph in the 1973 NCAA Tournament championship game. The
Tigers however, defeated the Bruins, 88-80, in the NIT preseason semifinals
at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. The 88 points allowed was the
most UCLA has given up in a single game this year.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute converted a layup with 10 seconds left, as UCLA
slipped past Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. The Bruins, who trailed by as many as 17
points in the game, closed out the contest on an 11-0 run en route to the two-
point victory. Mbah a Moute finished the game with a double-double that
consisted of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Farmar and Aaron Afflalo each
scored 15 points for the Bruins, who converted 21-of-30 free-throw attempts in
the win.

Farmar has had a solid tournament thus far and after three games he leads
the team in both scoring (13.7 ppg) and assists (4.7 apg). On the
season, he ranks second in scoring (13.6 ppg) to Afflalo, who is turning in
16.2 ppg. Afflalo however, has yet to turn it on in the tourney, averaging
11.7 ppg through three games. Mbah a Moute on the other hand, has stepped up
his play in the tournament and is contributing 13.3 ppg and 8.0 rpg compared
to the 9.1 ppg and 8.1 rpg he is averaging on the season. As a team, the
Bruins are averaging 71.0 rpg in the tournament, while holding their opponents
to a mere 58.0 ppg.

Memphis shot 51.7 percent from the field and knocked down 6-of-15 three
pointers, as it cruised past Bradley in the Sweet 16. The Tigers also won the
battle on the boards, 41-35, in addition to forcing the Braves into 17 costly
turnovers. Rodney Carney led the team to victory with 23 points and three
steals. Carney, who is averaging 17.3 ppg in the tourney thus far, also
grabbed four boards and hit on 7-of-12 field goals. Darius Washington Jr.
added 18 points in the victory, while Shawne Williams had 12 points and eight

On the year, Carney leads the Tigers in scoring at 17.5 ppg, and he is also
collecting 4.3 rpg and shooting 39.5 percent from long distance.
Washington Jr. ranks second to him at 13.4 ppg and is also dishing out 3.2
apg. In the tournament, Washington is averaging a nearly identical 13.3 ppg
behind 51.9 percent shooting from the floor. Williams follows Washington with
12.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg in three tournament games. The Conference USA Freshman of
the Year has made quite of name for himself this season, averaging 13.3 ppg
and 6.1 rpg. Overall, the Tigers are averaging 82.0 ppg in the tournament,
which is nearly identical to the 81.0 ppg they are netting on the season.
Memphis is also shooting the lights out through the three games, connecting on
53.8 percent from the field and 45.3 percent from long range.