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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UCLA talks back after win

    LOS ANGELES – Two and a half weeks ago, after Arizona defeated Washington, UA forward Marcus Williams had strong words to say about UCLA’s place at the top of the Pacific 10 Conference. “”We’re the standard,”” Williams told the Arizona Daily Star. “”I don’t think (UCLA is) the standard.”” Coming off a loss to the Bruins, who now have a much more legitimate claim to that title, the Wildcats are reeling, while the Bruins had a chance to run their mouths.

    But UCLA guards Darren Collison and Arron Afflalo, both of whom were aware of Williams’ comment, decided to stay away from the battle of words.

    “”Marcus, he’s entitled to say what he wants to say,”” said Collison, who scored 14 points. “”But I think it just shows you how tough the conference is. You might think you’re the best in the Pac-10, and then a couple of games later, you’re right down in the mix of things.””

    Afflalo, who torched Arizona for 24.5 points per game in two contests last year, even said he thought Williams had a point.

    “”That’s their opinion, we have our opinion, and in a sense they may be (the standard),”” Afflalo said. “”They’re very versatile and very good. We’ll go with the records and go with the individual games, and that’s all you can do.””

    UA head coach Lute Olson was impressed with UCLA’s squad.

    “”UCLA is really a good, solid ballclub,”” he said.

    Beating Cats still a big deal for Bruins

    There may be no more telling sign of the Arizona basketball program’s long-term success.

    When the USC students rushed the court to celebrate the Trojans’ win Thursday over the No. 11 Wildcats, it was at least the fifth time in just over a year and a half (last season’s weak USC rush was questionable) that it’s happened.

    Although there was no such rushing when the No. 3 Bruins took down the Wildcats, making it the second straight year Arizona was swept on its L.A. trip, the win still meant something to Afflalo.

    “”Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, that’s the team that’s been dominant for decades now,”” he said. “”If you can get a win against Arizona, I don’t care in what transition period they’re in, it’s a big win for you, and it’s the same for our school with all the tradition.””

    Arizona players seem well aware of this fact. In the locker room after the Wildcats beat Memphis Dec. 18, UA guard Jawann McClellan said a Bruins victory over Arizona “”would probably make (UCLA’s) season,”” even though the Bruins made it to the national championship game last year.

    Collison undefeated against program he rooted for

    Including three losses to UCLA last year, the Wildcats have now lost four straight against the Bruins for the first time since 1983-84, UA head coach Lute Olson’s first season.

    This means Collison, a sophomore, is undefeated against the program and coach he idolized in his childhood.

    “”Growing up, I always liked Arizona,”” he said, adding that it was because of their “”tremendous”” guards. “”I always liked their style of play, and I always wanted to go there, but going and (wanting) are two different things.””

    Although the Rancho Cucamongo, Calif., native was not recruited by Olson and his staff, he said he wasn’t expecting things to go so well for the Bruins when he entered this old rivalry.

    “”It is surprising because Arizona, they have a good coaching staff, and they have real good players, with Hassan (Adams) last year and this year Marcus (Williams), (Ivan) Radenovic,”” Collison said. “”It’s real surprising, but I think we worked for it.””

    Oh Aboya

    UCLA sophomore forward Alfred Aboya isn’t exactly the Steve Kerr of free-throw shooting. Aboya shot 46.9 percent from the charity stripe last season and came into the game shooting 53.6 percent.

    But against Arizona he made all four freethrows, including two late in the second half with UCLA up 70-67.

    “”Aboya hasn’t made four free throws in a row in his life, and he stepped up and hit four on us,”” UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough said.

    Rosborough was right. Aboya had not made all of his free throws in any game in which he’s had three or more attempts.

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