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UCLA routs Belmont in battle of the Bruins

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- There really was only room for one team
nicknamed Bruins in the NCAA Tournament. Sorry, Belmont, it wasn't
you.

Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had a career-high 17 points,
eight rebounds and six assists and UCLA routed the small Nashville
school 78-44 Thursday in a first-round NCAA Tournament matchup of
Bruins.

"We're disappointed, for sure," Belmont coach Rick Byrd said.
"You don't want to ever get beat bad. UCLA was way too good for
us."

Ryan Hollins added 10 points for No. 2 seed UCLA (28-6), which
won its seventh straight after holding 15th-seeded Belmont to 21
second-half points and 22 percent field-goal shooting. Belmont
(20-11) had averaged 81.8 points.

With big men Mbah a Moute and Hollins so effective, UCLA
lessened its usual reliance on backcourt duo Jordan Farmar and
Arron Afflalo, who combined for 15 points.

Justin Hare, who came in averaging 15.9 points, Boomer Herndon
and Andrew Preston had six points each for Belmont, which had its
No. 1 fan, country singer Vince Gill, in the front row.

"I expected them to be really good," Hare said. "It really
showed us how good they are."

UCLA coach Ben Howland earned his first NCAA Tournament victory
since taking over in Westwood three seasons ago. Last year, the
Bruins lost in the first round to Texas Tech.

They advanced to the second round for the first time since 2002
and will play 10th-seeded Alabama on Saturday in the Oakland
Regional.

"We're definitely focused on Saturday. There was no dumping
water or things of that nature," Afflalo said about the postgame
locker room scene. "We're on a six-game mission, one game at a
time."

The victory was UCLA's 86th all-time in its 40th Tournament
appearance, trailing only Kentucky's 95 and North Carolina's 88. It
was the school's biggest win since 2000, when the Bruins beat
Maryland 105-70 in the second round.

Before things got ugly, Belmont didn't flinch in the early going
of its first NCAA Tournament appearance.

"They looked like they came to play," Farmar said.

The Bruins of Nashville raced out to their largest lead of the
game, 18-12, while UCLA missed 10 of its first 15 shots.

"I kept saying, `We need to make our run," Belmont guard
Brian Collins said. "We just couldn't make a shot. We made silly
passes and kept on throwing it away."

Farmar blamed nerves for UCLA's slow start.

"We're really young. It's the first or second time for most of
us, it's very exciting," he said. "We were just a little jittery
to begin the game."

The game was tied four times before UCLA recovered with a 23-5
run -- including 13 in a row -- to end the half ahead 35-23. Mbah a
Moute scored seven points and Darren Collison added six.

"We just needed to execute," Afflalo said. "We were getting
good shots. We were just missing them. What changed was on the
defensive end."

Mbah a Moute, a native of Cameroon, has been playing basketball
for a scant five years.

"I was just trying to get my team together and execute," he
said. "I got some open opportunities, my teammates were finding me
and I kept on rolling."

Belmont committed a slew of its 10 turnovers during UCLA's
spurt, including two consecutive by Andy Wicke that led to baskets
by Collison. Its shooting also dipped to 35 percent from the floor
by halftime.

"They were too good in the open floor and hurt us on the
offensive boards," Byrd said.

UCLA's offensive tear continued into the second half, when the
Bruins outscored Belmont 10-2 and extended their lead to 45-25.

They then ran off 13 straight points for a 60-28 lead as Belmont
came up empty on possession after possession. Hare's struggles
epitomized how bad things got -- he tossed up an airball, then
missed two free throws.

"We got a lot of easy opportunities by forcing turnovers and
making them take difficult shots," Farmar said.

UCLA has held seven straight opponents to 60 points or less.
Belmont rarely got a second shot on any possession, and even when
it did, UCLA defenders had their arms in the air disrupting shots.

The huge lead allowed Howland to clear his bench with about
eight minutes remaining. Even then, Belmont couldn't hang with the
West Coast Bruins' reserves.