<
>

UCLA scorches Georgia Tech to take Maui Invitational

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) -- UCLA added another one to its crowded
trophy case.

The fifth-ranked Bruins took control early with tenacious
defense and hot shooting and beat No. 19 Georgia Tech 88-73 on
Wednesday night in the championship game of the EA Sports Maui
Invitational.

The Wayne Duke Trophy that's headed home with the Bruins might
not be as impressive as the ones they have for their record 11
national championships, but there was little doubt it was theirs
Wednesday night.

"This was a great team effort," Bruins coach Ben Howland said.
"I'm just so excited about how we're playing right now this early
in the season. This was a hard, hard place to play and to put
together three good days in a row was tough. We're going to take
next two days off and enjoy a Hawaiian vacation."

Arron Afflalo bounced back from a poor shooting game in the
semifinals to score 19 points for the Bruins (4-0), who were in
this tournament for the third time.

Darren Collison, selected tournament MVP, had 15 points and
seven assists for the Bruins, who shot 61 percent (20-for-33) in
taking a 47-36 halftime lead. They extended it to as many as 22
points in the second half, and the Yellow Jackets were never able
to get closer than 12 down the stretch.

"It's crazy," Collison said of being chosen the MVP. "Any of
us could have won it. I'm just glad we got the victory and came out
champions."

Afflalo sung the sophomore point guard's praises.

"That's the key to our success when he's averaging eight
assists and playing defense and doing the things no one notices,"
Afflalo said. "When he puts ball pressure on like that and creates
havoc he helps us all out on the defensive end. Doing all that and
getting eight assists a game is phenomonal."

Luc Richard Mbah A Moute had 14 points and Lorenzo Mata had nine
points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins.

Lewis Clinch had 21 points for Georgia Tech (5-1), which got to
the championship game by overcoming a 16-point halftime deficit to
beat No. 12 Memphis 92-85.

UCLA not only didn't allow the Yellow Jackets to stage a second
straight comeback, the Bruins kept up the solid defense that
allowed them to score transition baskets and pound it inside for a
total of 38 points in the paint.

"We simply got outplayed, outexecuted and outhustled on the
glass although the numbers don't reflect that," Georgia Tech coach
Paul Hewitt said, referring to the Bruins' 33-31 advantage. "I
thought we were in good shape but they just took over on the
boards. They got that lead in the first half and they are a tough
team to play catch up on."

Afflalo, a starter for the Bruins as they reached the NCAA
championship game last season, was 5-for-18, 1-for-8 on 3s, and had
14 points in the 73-68 victory over No. 20 Kentucky on Tuesday. He
was 6-for-13 overall and 2-for-8 on 3s against Georgia Tech.

"I didn't necessarily bounce back too well," Afflalo said. "I
had one more 3 but 3s are 3s. It's one facet of the game and I try
to be a complete player and help my team in other ways."

UCLA's biggest lead was 64-42 on a basket by Mata with 9:49 to
play. Thaddeus Young hit a 3 with 5:23 left to bring Georgia Tech
to 71-59, but Collison and Afflalo each made two free throws to end
the threat.

Georgia Tech trailed Memphis by 16 points at halftime of their
semifinal and came back for the win by outrebounding the Tigers
29-9 over the final 20 minutes. UCLA outrebounded the Yellow
Jackets 16-14 in the second half.

The Bruins were very active on defense, trapping all over the
court and forcing the Yellow Jackets into seven turnovers in the
first 12 minutes. It seemed UCLA scored off almost every one of
them.

Afflalo and Collison ended a 12-2 run with consecutive
3-pointers that gave the Bruins their first double-digit lead,
33-20 with 8:20 left.

UCLA was up by 17 points in the first half when the Yellow
Jackets took advantage of three straight turnovers for a 7-0 run
that included a 3-pointer by Clinch.

Mbah A Moute stopped the run with his fifth offensive rebound of
the half, grabbing a missed 3-pointer by Roll and laying it in with
1:43 to go. Mbah A Moute was 5-for-5 from the field in the half as
UCLA scored 22 points inside.

Even UCLA coach Ben Howland got into the physical side of the
game. He was standing in front of the bench just after the Bruins
took a 43-26 lead when the ball headed his way going out of bounds.
Georgia Tech's 6-foot-10, 250-pound Ra'San Dickey ran into Howland,
knocking him down, but the 49-year-old Howland was up in a hurry.

"My knee started to hurt at halftime. Hopefully an MRI will
show nothing," he said drawing a laugh. "I took a charge for the
team. He whacked me good."

With 2:16 remaining in the game, Georgia Tech junior forward
Jeremis Smith went to the floor with what appeared to be an injury
to his right knee. After being helped off the court, he sat on the
bench but did not return to the game. He missed 17 games as a
freshman after dislocating his right kneecap in the third game of
the season.

"It should be OK," he said. "Nothing is out of place or
anything like that so I should be OK."

The Bruins finished third on Maui in 2001 and were sixth in 1995
as defending national champions.

Georgia Tech was making its first trip to Maui.