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NOTEBOOK: COLLISON'S SHOT CAN'T FIND ITS MARK.

Byline: BRIAN DOHN

Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- Midway through the first half of UCLA's 76-66 loss to Florida in Saturday's NCAA Tournament national semifinals at the Georgia Dome, point guard Darren Collison penetrated the Gators' defense and passed to an open Alfred Aboya.

Aboya dunked the ball to pull the Bruins within a point, and it appeared UCLA found a way to attack Florida's defense.

However, Collison went away from the dribble-drive and the jump-stop, and began relying on jump shots. It did not work out well.

Collison made 3 of 14 shots from the field, but didn't make his first field goal until 9:23 remained, and it cut Florida's lead to 51-36.

"Our main focus was to get it in near the basket so we could kick it out, or get it inside and get our post players involved," Collison said. "We didn't get the ball inside enough, and I take full responsibility for that. I don't think I played nearly as well as I could."

Collison finished with nine points and five assists without a turnover, but was 1 for 6 from 3-point range and didn't have a rebound.

"He tried to play very hard and played his heart out," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "He's got to continue to work at (staying with dribble penetration)."

Bench help: With Arron Afflalo limited to five first-half minutes after picking up three fouls, and with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on the bench with two fouls, UCLA had to turn to Michael Roll and little-used James Keefe for major minutes in the first half.

UCLA's bench played 44 minutes in the first half, but didn't get much tangible production. Alfred Aboya had three points and three rebounds in 15 minutes, Roll missed his four shots and didn't score in 14 minutes, Keefe had two points and onerebound in 10 minutes and Russell Westbrook had one turnover in five minutes.

Courting assistants: UCLA assistant Kerry Keating spoke to Long Beach State officials about their vacant opening during the week in what a source described as a "preliminary" interview.

Meanwhile, Donny Daniels, another Bruins assistant and with head coaching experience, hasn't received much interest. Much of the problem for Daniels is perception, according to several sources at the Final Four.

Daniels, who interviewed for the Pepperdine job last spring, spent three seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Cal State Fullerton, where his record was 20-64. The gaudiness of his losing record is scaring off potential suitors. But Daniels' had taken over a Fullerton program on probation, and had to deal with the loss of two scholarships. Also, he was not allowed to recruit junior college transfers for his first two years.

Also: Josh Shipp was 6 of 10 from the field in the first half. The rest of the Bruins were 3 of 19. -- UCLA was beaten in the Final Four by Florida for the second straight year. It is the first time since 1961 and 1962, when Cincinnati beat Ohio State, a team was eliminated by the same team in back-to-back Final Fours.

CAPTION(S):

photo, 6 boxes

Photo:

UCLA point guard Darren Collison made 3 of 14 field goals, but he didn't convert his first one until 9:53 was left.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Box:

(1) QUOTE OF THE DAY

- Arron Afflalo

(2) HERO

(3) GOAT

(4) BY THE NUMBERS

(5) NCAA TITLE GAME

(6) GAME STATS
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Words:571
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