Mint-condition Bruins cream the Irish 89-63, icy Notre Dame’s 7th straight loss, worst of the year, and perhaps, final straw
Alfred Aboya is turning UCLA BACK into a National contender. The Senior Center was the clear-cut MVP in the Bruins’ laugher over a free-falling Notre Dame team, who has lost seven in a row, and may miss the Tournament. But just because the Irish are playing horrible Basketball right now and can’t defend to save their lives, it’s no reason to discount the incredible contributions of Aboya.
Double-A is always the player that receives the least attention from the opposing defense, and for the last few games, he has been making them pay for it. On Saturday morning, he scored 19 points to lead all scorers, and he grabbed 7 rebounds as UCLA dominated the paint.
The key to the game, as always, was the Bruins’ Defense, which completely shut down Notre Dame’s Star player, Luke Harangody. Nikola Dragovic stuffed him on a spectacular block early, and Luke never seemed to recover. He scored only 5 points, about 20 below his average.
Darren Collison got his three-point shot back, hitting three and scoring 17, and Jrue Holiday continued to dominate the highlight reel, with a beautiful lob to Josh Shipp for a high-flying dunk, and later, a double-clutch dunk of his own. Holiday also continued to dominate ACROSS the stat sheet, with eight points, three rebounds, SEVEN assists, and THREE steals. The Bruins look good when Holiday is running the Offense, and with Collison’s outside shot currently more deadly than Holiday’s, it makes sense to give Holiday a little more time at the Point. Collison should be able to get some rest though, because back-up Point Guard Jerime Anderson also continues to improve.
Anderson’s fellow Freshman Malcolm Lee showed some flashy moves and hit one amazing sharp-angle bank-shot, but later sprained his ankle. Drew Gordon hurt his back, and Dragovic has the flu, so that comment about “mint condition” no longer applies, as the Bruins travel to Tempe looking to avenge an early loss to the Sun Devils in Pauley. Aboya will have to sustain his trend of hitting short jumpers and jump hooks, in order to open up his teammates, and get the Bruins the edge.
With Aboya suddenly playing virtually as well as Hollins or Mata ever did, the Bruins have thrust themselves right back into contention for a #1 Seed in the West, and a favorable trip to a 4th consecutive Final Four. Yes, yes — Three weeks ago, this notion was laughable. But then the shooting of Dragovic and Collison, and the overall game of Aboya, have all come together to make the Bruins as formidable as anyone in the Nation (right as Duke is falling apart). And all this with NO “change” to Ben Howland’s overall game plan. You could conceivably assert that they have been playing at a faster pace during their four-game blowout-streak, but if so, it is due to more Turnovers caused by an increase in defensive intensity, NOT any change in strategy or philosophy. As usual, the people who questioned Howland’s methods three weeks ago are noticeably silent now.
Silence is golden, as are the Cheerleaders (and players) who follow…