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December 30, 2005UCLA opened Conference in high fashion by trouncing nemesis Stanford 71-54. The victory ended a six game losing streak to the Cardinal at Pauley Pavilion and an eight game losing streak overall to Stanford. The Bruins hadn't beat the Cardinal since February 23, 2002. UCLA made quick work of it too, as the Bruins took a commanding 18-1 lead and never looked back.
The game got off to a great start for the Bruins when Arron Afflalo hit sophomore forward Josh Shipp, making his first start of the season, with a strike and Shipp smoothly laid it in for a bucket while being fouled. He converted the free throw and the Bruins took a three point lead.
UCLA has been playing defense at a very high level this season and against Stanford that fine play continued. The Bruins put the clamps on the Cardinal holding them scoreless for nearly nine minutes.
Every shot the Cardinal tried was contested. The harassment worked because the Cardinal only shot 20% from the floor in the first half as the Bruins took a 38-19 lead into halftime.
On the offensive side of the floor the Bruins hit a very good 50.9% from the floor and was 7-16 from three-point stripe hitting at a 43.8 clip.
Once again Afflalo led the Bruins in scoring tying his career high of 23 points. Afflalo is having a very special season on both sides of the floor and should start hearing his name among the nation's best college players.
Not only is Afflalo hitting clutch shots in crunch time but he is also playing outstanding defense. It is hard to imagine where the Bruins would be without Afflalo's fine play.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could end up being the second straight freshman player of the year for the Bruins. Once again he led the Bruins in rebounds with 12. Mbah a Moute also led the Bruins with three blocked shots and three steals while chipping in 12 points.
It was also good to see Shipp back in action and he played like he never skipped a beat. He had his typical well rounded game ending up with 11 points, three points, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot.
Lorenzo Mata had another good game playing hard defense before fouling out. Mata is giving the Bruins an aggressive presence in the middle.
Nothing comes without a price for the Bruins this season as injuries continue to take their. Point guard Jordan Farmar tweaked his tender again and only played 14 minutes. He finished the game with five points, five rebounds and four assists.
Farmar was seating on the bench for most of the second half with other injured Bruins; Michael Fey, Michael Fey and the latest casualty Cedric Bozeman. It is not sure if he will be able to suit up against Cal.
True freshman point guard Darren Collison stepped up by playing 31 minutes while leading the Bruins with eight assists.
The Bruins are having a special season on the hardwood. The sign of a well-coached team by getting better as the season progresses and UCLA is definitely getting better.
When you take into account the injury bug that has befallen this team, their accomplishments are even more impressive.