LOS ANGELES (AP)—Tearing up and down the court is UCLA’s favorite way to play. So when the Bruins encounter an opponent that slows things down, frustration sets in and their fans nearly go to sleep.
Arron Afflalo scored 13 points to help the top-ranked Bruins beat UC Riverside 61-38 Sunday, giving them a 6-0 record for the first time since they won the 1995 national championship.
“We got a lot of aggressive guys on this team that want to get up and down,” Afflalo said. “It’s pretty difficult (to play slow).”
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 12 points and 12 rebounds in the Bruins’ second blowout victory that ended their first week as the nation’s top-ranked team in 11 years. They beat Long Beach State by 30 points last Tuesday night. Josh Shipp and Lorenzo Mata added 10 points each.
“We’re a fast-breaking team,” point guard Darren Collison said. “It’s real difficult for us, but we did a good job in the second half standing our ground. We’re the No. 1 team and everyone is trying to beat us, and they’re going to do what it takes.”
Henrik Thomsen scored eight points for the Highlanders (3-5), who played a top-ranked team for the second time ever. In 1988, UCR stunned No. 1 Iowa 110-92 in the Chaminade Christmas Classic.
The Highlanders controlled a slow tempo in the first half and were down by 10 at the break.
“Early we were a little anxious,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “We missed some open shots from 3-point range. That was a tough game because they were very patient on offense.”
UCR was limited to four points over the final 7 1/2 minutes on baskets by Justin Bell and Michael Creppy. The Highlanders shot 30 percent for the game and committed 12 turnovers—under their 20.2 average.
“Some of those guys haven’t been getting a lot of playing time,” UCR interim coach Vonn Webb said. “We got some stops, but then we turned it over, gave up some easy baskets and these kind of things break you down.”
The Bruins were messy, too, with 13 turnovers, but they shot 68 percent from the floor in the second half and got to the free throw line nine more times than UCR.
Midway through the second half, Shipp was the only starter on the floor for the Bruins, but the Highlanders still couldn’t get a run going.
The closest they came was at the start of the second half. Thomsen and Christian Soto scored consecutive baskets to close to 26-20. The Highlanders stole the ball, but Mata blocked the shot before UCLA ran off nine in a row to go up 35-20.
That spurt gave UCLA a double-digit lead for good, helped by an 13-0 run for a 59-33 lead. Mata made a short left-handed hook in the lane, then dunked, got fouled and made the free throw, with Mbah a Moute adding a free throw.
“I always had that in my repertoire,” Mata joked. “The more shots I take, my confidence will be growing.”
Collison woke up the crowd with a flying one-handed fast-break dunk and Mata capped the spurt on a dunk with less than four minutes to play.
“These guys are really talented,” Webb said. “They stepped it up when we didn’t.”
The softest portion of the Bruins’ schedule continues Tuesday against Cal State Fullerton. They play No. 9 Texas A&M next Saturday in the John R. Wooden Classic before hosting Oakland, Mich., Sam Houston State and Michigan.
The biggest cheers of the day were reserved for eight members of UCLA’s football team that received a standing ovation at halftime for the Bruins’ 13-9 upset of crosstown rival Southern California on Saturday.
The Highlanders were at a significant disadvantage before the game even started. They’re without coach David Spencer, on an indefinite leave since Nov. 3 for undisclosed medical reasons.
Two of their best players—sophomore Benoit Bekono and junior B.J. Visman— are out for the rest of a season in which UCR was picked to finish last in the Big West.
Bekono averaged 6.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in six starts before dislocating his right knee. Visman averaged 10.0 points and 8.6 rebounds in five games, but will take a medical redshirt because of lingering pain in his right wrist.