The UCLA bench celebrated toward the end of last night's Maui Invitational semifinal win over Kentucky.
Bruins fight through to Maui final
UCLA will take on Georgia Tech to cap a tough three days
LAHAINA » A first-time champion will be crowned in the final of the EA Sports Maui Invitational today.
Not that UCLA and Georgia Tech are any strangers to high-stakes contests.
The Bruins, an NCAA Tournament finalist last March, and the Yellow Jackets, the NCAA runner-up in 2004, meet for the championship of the 23rd annual Maui Invitational at 5 p.m., at the Lahaina Civic Center.
After surviving tough semifinal matchups yesterday, the teams will try to summon 40 more minutes of energy in hopes of concluding their three-day run on Maui with the tournament title.
"We knew we were going to play three games in three days at the highest level and hopefully compete for a championship, so we're ready," UCLA guard Arron Afflalo said.
No. 19 Georgia Tech (5-0) advanced to the final in its first appearance in the Maui Invitational with a remarkable sec
ond-half performance to upset No. 12 Memphis. The Yellow Jackets battled back from a 16-point halftime deficit to catch, then blow past the Tigers on their way to a 92-85 win.
Fifth-ranked UCLA (3-0) then held off No. 20 Kentucky 73-68 in last night's second semifinal showdown between two of the nation's most successful programs.
"They're very physical and very talented, so it's going to be a big challenge for us to match up with Georgia Tech," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
UCLA will make its first title game appearance in its third trip to Maui after seeing a 17-point first-half lead evaporate against Kentucky, then pulling out the win in the final minutes.
The Wildcats (3-1), who fell behind 26-9 early in the game, led briefly at 57-55 with 6:22 left. But UCLA forward Lorenzo Mata pushed the Bruins ahead for good at 61-59 with a tough layup in the post with 4:58 left.
Still leading by two in the final minute, the Bruins sealed the game when Darren Collison came up with a steal and fed Afflalo for a dunk. Josh Shipp added another dunk moments later to punctuate the win.
Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute led the Bruins with 18 points, while Afflalo scored 14. Mata had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Memphis guard Tre'Von Willis fouled Georgia Tech guard Mario West during a Maui Invitational semifinal yesterday.
Kentucky's Joe Crawford led four Wildcats in double figures with 16 points.
"I feel really happy because I know we beat a team that's going to be in the NCAA Tournament," Howland said.
"I was sick to my gut thinking about this all day, it's like a root canal only worse because they're so tough and they're well coached."
Georgia Tech will ride the emotion of a remarkable comeback against Memphis into today's finale.
The Yellow Jackets scored 62 points and outrebounded Memphis 29-9 in the second half to erase a 46-30 halftime deficit.
The Jackets grabbed 23 offensive rebounds, leading to 31 second-chance points. They also went 35-for-50 from the free-throw line.
"I kept telling them in the huddle if we just settle this game down, we're going to score," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said.
The Yellow Jackets took their first lead with 8:28 left when Ra'Sean Dickey powered in a layup while being fouled and hit the free throw to put Georgia Tech up 63-62.
Memphis could do little to slow down the Yellow Jackets from that point as Georgia Tech eventually built a 13-point lead.
Although Georgia Tech's heralded freshman class gets a lot of ink, Hewitt credited guard Mario West, the team's lone senior, and junior forward Jeremis Smith, for sparking the comeback.
"When we put Mario in the game with 18 minutes left, you could see the game change," Hewitt said. "The ball started going inside, we started getting stops, we started getting rebounds, and all of a sudden we were ahead and never looked back."
Smith scored 21 points, while Dickey finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
"I think we grew up a lot just with that one game," West said. "Last year we had situations down the stretch and we couldn't quite put it together. I'm just proud of all of our guys. We kept fighting."
DePaul 93, Chaminade 74
For a minute, thoughts of another Chaminade upset floated around the Civic Center when the Silverswords closed to within a point of the Blue Devils early in the second half. DePaul's Sammy Mejia made sure they didn't hang around much longer.
After Chaminade (0-2) went on a 15-2 run to trail 52-51 with 15:45 left, DePaul (2-3) scored the next 14 points, with Mejia contributing nine, to reclaim control.
"We hit a couple of big shots and made a little bit of a run," Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said. "The feeling in the gym gets a little more tense at that time and I was really excited with that."
DePaul's Wilson Chandler led all scorers with 23 points, while Mejia finished with 19. Chaminade forward Stewart Kussler made eight of 11 shots and finished with 21 points. Guard Zack Whiting had 13 points and 13 assists, two shy of the tournament record.
The win was DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright's 200th of his career.
Purdue 74, Oklahoma 71
Carl Landry answered the early wake-up call to score 30 points and lead the Boilermakers (3-1), who sweated out a dramatic finish, to edge the Sooners (2-2) in a game that tipped off at 8:30 a.m.
Landry made 10 of 13 shots and was 10-for-12 from the free-throw line.
"I woke up this morning thinking it could be something special and it was," Landry said.
Purdue forward Gordon Watt had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
After 13 ties and 19 lead changes, Oklahoma had the ball with a chance to tie the game with 9.2 seconds left. But a 3-point attempt by Keith Clark bounced off the rim to end the game.
David Gobold led the Sooners with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Marquette beats Duke in CBE Classic
KANSAS CITY, Mo. » Tom Crean has guided Marquette to consecutive wins over teams coached by Bob Knight and Mike Krzyzewski the past two nights.
Think the Golden Eagles -- and their coach -- belong among college basketball's elite?
Dominic James scored a season-high 25 points and led a late surge to help No. 13 Marquette beat No. 9 Duke 73-62 last night in the championship game of the CBE Classic.
The Golden Eagles turned 19 Duke turnovers into 25 points, one night after scoring 27 points off turnovers in an 87-72 victory over Texas Tech.
"Beating Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski -- to win validates our hard work," said Crean, who has averaged 20 wins in seven seasons at Marquette, including a Final Four berth in 2003. "To play against great coaches and great programs, to cut down the nets and be able to raise this championship banner at our arena will bring memories that will last forever."
They probably wouldn't have been possible if not for James, Marquette's gritty sophomore guard.
With the game tied at 56 and 6:23 to go, he scored 10 points in a span of less than 2 1/2 minutes. James was fouled connecting on a fall-away jumper with 3:57 left, and after he made the free throw Marquette (6-0) led 67-58.
The Blue Devils (4-1) could not mount a rally over the final couple of minutes, giving Crean his seventh win in 18 games against teams ranked in the top 10.
"Our whole mentality was we couldn't take a possession off against these teams at all," Crean said.
OTHER TOP 25 RESULTS
» No. 1 Florida 94, Prairie View 33
» No. 7 Wisconsin 64, Delaware St. 52
» No. 10 Kansas 89, Tennessee St. 54
» No. 21 Nevada 83, UC Irvine 64