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UCLA REPORT

Howland's happy with play

January 01, 2007|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

After watching UCLA score a season-high 96 points, shoot 21 of 29 from the field in the second half (72.4%) and 40 of 67 from the field for the game (59.7%), Coach Ben Howland smiled Sunday.

"At this stage, we're much further ahead than a year ago at this time," Howland said of the Bruins, who have won 24 of their last 25 games. "It remains to be seen as we grow how much improvement we'll have, but there's no reason to think we won't."

Howland is also happy with the defense. He was asked to compare this UCLA team to his bigger, brawnier Pittsburgh teams.

"We're a little different in that our field-goal-percentage defense is not quite as low as maybe the last couple of years at Pitt," Howland said, "but we're forcing so many more turnovers.

"I bet we've forced twice as many turnovers than any team I've coached over 13 games, and a lot of those are turning into baskets. We're a good team, a quick, good team."

The Bruins lead the Pacific 10 Conference in steals with 119, 15 more than Oregon.

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Forward Josh Shipp, who sprained his right ankle in practice Tuesday and had his practice time limited since, left Sunday's game with about 10 minutes left. Howland said Shipp was cramping.

"It's nothing serious I'm assured," Howland said. "Just cramping up."

Arron Afflalo took an elbow to the nose in the second half and fell to the floor. Afflalo reluctantly left the game for a minute.

"My nose was stinging," Afflalo said. "But I'm fine."

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Michael Roll, who has played 215 minutes this year, hasn't shot a free throw. "I don't drive to the basket that much," Roll said.

On Sunday, UCLA didn't shoot a free throw in the second half.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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