UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute celebrated with the championship trophy after UCLA defeated Georgia Tech in the championship game at the Maui Invitational in Lahaina yesterday.
UCLA departs Maui with title
The Bruins add to their trophy collection with a win over Georgia Tech
LAHAINA » Until last night, Maui had hardly been magical for UCLA.
The Bruins' first two visits to Lahaina were tainted by humbling upsets. The third will be remembered for a championship.
Fifth-ranked UCLA throttled No. 19 Georgia Tech 88-73 last night to capture its first EA Sports Maui Invitational crown before a packed house at the Lahaina Civic Center.
The Bruins (4-0) led by 11 at halftime and pushed their advantage to as many as 22 in the second half and earned a place on the tournament's distinguished list of champions.
The 2007 field for the Maui Invitational
» Arizona State
» Oklahoma State
"That was a very gratifying win because that was a very good team," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.
UCLA point guard Darren Collison finished with 15 points and seven assists and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. The speedy sophomore averaged 13.3 points, seven assists and 2.7 steals over the three-day tournament.
"That's the key to our success," said guard Arron Afflalo, who joined Collison on the all-tournament team. "He's averaging eight assists still with his ability to score and he does a lot of little things people don't notice."
Afflalo led the Bruins with 19 points last night. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made all seven shots from the field for his 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Bruins, who shot 58 percent as a team.
"I love our team because they're so unselfish," Howland said. "Darren got the (MVP), congratulations to Darren, but it could have been Luc, it could have been Arron Afflalo, it doesn't really matter. We're just marching forward one game at a time."
In UCLA's Maui debut in 1995, a first-round upset to a Steve Nash-led Santa Clara team set the tone for a sixth-place showing for the defending national champion Bruins. A semifinal flame-out against Ball State derailed UCLA's tournament title hopes in 2001.
This time, the Bruins upheld their standing as the highest rated team in the tournament, beating two other ranked teams on their way to the championship.
"This is a hard, hard place to play, so to put together three days in a row, I'm just really pleased," Howland said.
Georgia Tech battled back from a 14-point halftime deficit against Memphis in its semifinal win, but falling behind by 22 to the Bruins was too much for the young Yellow Jackets to overcome.
Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young and Jeremis Smith fought UCLA's Lorenzo Mata for a rebound.
Guard Lewis Clinch scored 21 points to pace the Yellow Jackets, and made the all-tournament team.
"We're a good basketball team," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "Of course we've got to play a lot better to play with a team like UCLA.
"I hope with this big-game experience we can use it to our advantage when we go back to practice on Saturday."
The Bruins steadily built a controlling lead in the first half, pulling ahead by 17 at the 4:15 mark.
The Bruins shot 61 percent from the field in the first half and the attempts they missed often fell in the hands of Mbah a Moute, who scored eight of his 10 points on putbacks.
Reserve guard Michael Roll contributed 13 points off the bench. He drained a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock then got a floater to drop to push the UCLA lead to 43-26.
"I was really, really happy with how good our bench played," Howland said. "We didn't skip a beat when we brought our bench into the game."
Georgia Tech closed to within nine early in the second half only to see UCLA break away again with a 17-4 run to lead 64-42 with 9:49 left, holding Georgia Tech scoreless for a 6-minute span.
Collison, Afflalo and Clinch were joined on the all-tournament team by Chris Douglas-Roberts of Memphis and Carl Landry of Purdue.
No. 12 Memphis 80, No. 20 Kentucky 63
Held scoreless in the first half, Memphis guard Willie Kemp broke out for 10 points in the first 4 minutes of the second half to trigger the Tigers' rout of the Wildcats (3-2).
Kemp's streak was part of a 14-4 Memphis run to turn a 43-40 halftime lead into a controlling cushion. Back-to-back dunks by Joey Dorsey sparked another 14-0 run a few minutes later as the Tigers bounced back after blowing a big lead in the second half against Georgia Tech on Tuesday.
"I was so excited about the game starting because I wanted to see what I had as a team," Memphis coach John Calipari said. "Because I don't know. These guys are new and we went south for 20 minutes and I wanted to know, 'Were they tough enough, did they have character, could they come back, could they do it together?' And it was a resounding yes thank goodness, because it would have been a long trip for us."
Forward Robert Dozier, limited to 8 minutes due to foul trouble on Tuesday, led Memphis (3-1) with 15 points.
Kentucky center Randolph Morris led the Wildcats with 18 points and eight rebounds.
"It looked like we hit the wall in the second half," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said.
Purdue 81, DePaul 73
The Boilermakers (4-1) raced out to a 24-point lead in the first half and held off a Blue Demons (2-4) comeback to pick up their second win on Maui.
Purdue forward Carl Landry led all scorers with 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Guard David Teague also had a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards and Tarrance Crump hit for 20 points.
"I thought this was a huge win for our program," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We had some guys step up. ... To come here and go 2-1 with your only loss to Georgia Tech, for us this was huge."
DePaul's Wilson Chandler made four 3-pointers and led the Blue Demons with 16 points.
Oklahoma 72, Chaminade 57
For the second straight game, the Silverswords (0-3) were within a point in the second half against a Division I power. But the Sooners (3-2) answered with the inside power of Longar Longar and the outside shooting of Austin Johnson to hold on.
The 6-foot-11 Longar dominated the smaller Silverswords in the paint to score 24 points on 12-for-13 shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Still, Chaminade trailed 43-42 with 13:38 left after a 3-pointer by James Francisco and was within four with 6 minutes left. But Johnson made a driving jumper and nailed two 3-pointers in a row to thwart Chaminade's upset hopes.
Chaminade forward Stewart Kussler, who scored 21 points against DePaul on Tuesday, finished with 23 yesterday.
"I had the confidence from playing well yesterday that I could hang with these guys and our whole team could hang with these guys," Kussler said.
Guard Hayden Heber finished with 14, with four 3-pointers. Guard Zack Whiting had nine assists and five steals.
The 15-point spread was Chaminade's smallest margin of defeat in the tournament since falling by eight to San Diego State in the third-place game in 2003.
"I was really, really impressed with our guys," Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said. "If we play with that effort and intensity all year we're going to have a very good year."
The Silverswords next face Division III Carleton College on Tuesday at McCabe Gym.