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MAUI WOW: BRUINS WIN TOURNAMENT UCLA TAKES CONTROL EARLY AND BEATS GEORGIA TECH UCLA 88, GA. TECH 73.

Byline: BRIAN DOHN Staff Writer

LAHAINA, Hawaii - Until the Pacific-10 Conference season rolls around in a month, UCLA's measuring stick is the Maui Invitational.

The Bruins measure up well. Exceedingly well. Sophomore wing Michael Roll scored a season-high 13 points, all in the first half, as the Bruins built a big lead, and junior guard Arron Afflalo took control offensively after intermission and finished with 19 points No. 5 UCLA rolled past No. 19 Georgia Tech 88-73 Wednesday at the Lahaina Civic Center to win its first Maui Invitational title.

UCLA point guard Darren Collison, who had 15 points and seven assists, was named the tournament's most outstanding player.

The tournament crown came in UCLA's third trip to Maui, but first appearance in the title game. The Yellow Jackets, who started a trio of freshmen, were here for the first time.

It was an affair UCLA controlled after the initial five minutes, and were never really threatened for over the last 30.The Yellow Jackets (5-1) got a quick basket from Zach Peacock after halftime to trim UCLA's lead to 47-38, the first time UCLA's lead was in single-digits since midway through the first half, but it didn't stay that way long.

The Bruins scored 11 of the next 13 points, although before the run began there was a conspicuous moment as Lorenzo Mata shot airballed his second free throw of the three-day tournament. However, Mata made the next free throw, then slammed down a basket with his left hand on UCLA's next possession.

Afflalo made it 53-38 with a layup and free throw, and after a Thaddeus Young dunked in transition for Georgia Tech, Collison made a 3-poiner and Afflalo capped the 11-2 run with a 14-foot baseline jumper to give UCLA a 58-40 lead with 16:22 to play.

Mata's layup midway through the second half provided UCLA with its biggest lead at 64-42.

The Bruins had trouble in the opening minutes on the boards, getting decimated as the Yellow Jackets had the first eight rebounds of the game, including five on the offensive end. But UCLA, which appeared sluggish at first, found its legs and intensity, and dominated the boards thereafter.

In fact, in building an 11-point halftime lead, the Bruins wound up holding a 17-15 edge on the boards. And while that solidified things for the Bruins' defense, offense came from an unlikely place.

Roll had 13 points in the first three games, and 10 of those came against Division II Chaminade, but he teamed with power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to trigger UCLA's offense and key a 20-8 run.

Mbah a Moute scored on a feed from Collison, and then began his barrage of offensive rebounds and putbacks to give the Bruins a 27-18 lead with 10:15 remaining in the first half.

The Bruins, who made just 2 of 19 shots from 3-point range in the semifinal defeat of Kentucky, seized control against Georgia Tech with long-range shooting. Afflalo and Collison each hit from beyond the arc, and Roll had a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which came with the shot clock winding down as the Bruins built a 39-26 lead.

Mbah a Moute added another offensive rebound off an Afflalo miss and scored the easy basket and Roll capped the run with a 10-foot baseline jumper as the Bruins went ahead 43-26 with 4:15 left before intermission. UCLA shot 60.6 percent in the first half.

The Yellow Jackets fought back from a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat No. 11 Memphis to reach the title game, but they didn't wait that long before mounting a comeback agaist the Bruins.

Young made a pair of free throws to kick-start a 7-0 run, which included a a 3-pointer and two free throws from Lewis Clinch. Georgia Tech also scored the final three points of the half to cut UCLA's lead to 47-36 at the break.

brian.dohn@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3607

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2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute celebrates with the Maui Invitational trophy.

(2 -- color) UCLA guard Darren Collison, left, drives on Georgia Tech guard Lewis Clinch. Collison was named tournament MVP.

Michael Conroy/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 23, 2006
Words:702
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