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Collison, freshmen keep No. 4 UCLA on track as Bruins humble Prairie View

LOS ANGELES -- Pardon UCLA fans for double-checking their programs. It will take some time to get used to all the new faces on the court for the fourth-ranked Bruins.

But if they follow through on the promise they showed in their debuts, UCLA could indeed reach its fourth consecutive Final Four.

Darren Collison scored 19 points, five touted freshmen provided offensive punch and the Bruins opened their season with an 82-58 victory over Prairie View on Wednesday night in the first round of the 2K Sports Classic.

Freshman Jrue Holiday joined the starting lineup of Final Four veterans Collison, Josh Shipp, Alfred Aboya and James Keefe and scored 11 points in his college debut.

"It felt great," he said. "I didn't play too well in the first half, but then I picked it up."

His fellow freshmen displayed deft scoring, too. Malcolm Lee added 12 points, Drew Gordon six, J'Mison Morgan four and Jerime Anderson three.

"They played exceptionally well," Collison said. "They came off the bench and were ready to play. We need that consistently."

The Bruins (1-0) are coming off a 35-4 season in which they lost in the national semifinals. They lost Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to the NBA and Lorenzo Mata-Real to graduation, although UCLA has three seniors (Collison, Shipp and Aboya) on its roster for the first time since 2005-06.

They improved to 6-0 in season openers under coach Ben Howland.

Prairie View (0-1) was led by 22 points from Darnell Hugee in his Division I debut, while Michael Griffin added 13 points.

"UCLA is one of the best, or the best team in the country," Prairie View coach Byron Rimm said. "I just think their firepower wore us down."

The Bruins will play Miami (Ohio) on Thursday night for a chance to advance to the semifinals of the tournament benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer at New York's Madison Square Garden. The RedHawks defeated Weber State 70-66.

UCLA closed the first half on a 31-11 run to take a 38-19 lead, helped by 3-pointers from Michael Roll, Shipp, Lee and Anderson. During the decisive spurt, the Bruins ran off 11 straight points.

At that point, Howland had four freshmen on the court with Roll in effort to rest his starters for Thursday night's game. The newcomers combined for 16 points in the half.

The Panthers were held to 23 percent shooting in the half.

"The first half we played very good defense," Howland said.

UCLA opened the second half on a 14-7 run to go up 52-26. Collison hit his first field goal of the season and scored five more points, while Keefe had four points and Holiday hit a 3-pointer in the burst.

Still, Holiday found plenty to critique, including the Bruins' 24 turnovers and 10-of-18 free throw shooting.

"We could've blown them out by 40 or 50 points if we'd played to the best of our ability," he said. "Today wasn't one of our best games."

The Panthers trailed by 27 points midway through the half before rallying to get within 14 with 4:40 remaining.

But UCLA quickly built a bigger lead, with Lee sandwiching baskets around Collison's fastbreak score. One of Lee's baskets came when Collison fed the rookie for a one-handed jam.

"Honestly, we won't see teams this big [in our league]," Rimm said. "It helps us build confidence. As a matter of fact, we won't play anybody this tough the entire year."

Prairie View's 27 turnovers were just three more than UCLA, which dominated the boards 42-22 with Gordon getting eight rebounds. But the Bruins had 12 turnovers from the point guard position, with Collison and Anderson accounting for six each.

"That's bad, that's real bad," Collison said. "I can't remember the last time I had six turnovers."

UCLA forward Nikola Dragovic didn't dress as punishment after his arrest last week for suspicion of misdemeanor battery. He allegedly pushed his former girlfriend to the ground during an argument and has a scheduled court appearance on Dec. 4.

"I'm very confident this whole thing is going to work out," Howland said, adding that Dragovic will play Thursday.