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November 29, 2007
LOS ANGELES(AP) The second-ranked UCLA Bruins are mostly healthy and on a roll as they get ready to take on No. 8 Texas.
With preseason All-America Darren Collison back from an injury and contributing 14 points and five assists in his season debut, UCLA (7-0) rolled to an 83-60 victory over George Washington on Wednesday night.
Russell Westbrook, who had filled in at point guard while Collison recovered from a sprained left knee, had 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Bruins. Josh Shipp added 15 points, and freshman Kevin Love had 11 points and 11 rebounds for UCLA.
Collison, who hurt his knee in an exhibition game and missed the Bruins' first six games of the regular season, was happy to be back.
"It was a confidence factor for me. It was about me pushing off my left leg. I didn't think I was going to play that many minutes," Collison said after being in the game for 26 minutes.
Collison added that he was surprised by how well he played, saying "I got into the flow of the game and it started to go real well."
Coach Ben Howland obviously was pleased to have the junior back on the court.
"Now that he's playing out there, he's not thinking about his leg any more," Howland said. "It's incredible how well he played for not having done anything for 24 days, and not having played in a game in 26 days.
"So I was really, really excited and obviously we need him back and he played great."
Looking ahead to Sunday's game against Texas at Pauley Pavilion, Howland said, "I just watched them destroy Tennessee (on TV), and Tennessee is a very good team."
The Longhorns beat then-No. 7 Tennessee 97-78 in the championship game of the Legends Classic on Saturday.
UCLA couldn't shake the Colonials (2-2) in the first half, but Shipp scored eight points and Collison had six as the Bruins reeled off an 18-4 streak to open the second half and take control at 62-39.
"I thought we really did a good job in the second half, coming out and attacking their press," Howland said. "I was especially pleased with Russell Westbrook. I thought he did an unbelievable job, penetrating, kicking it back out. He hit Josh for two three's in a row that kind of broke the game open early in the second half.
"You can see all the minutes that Russell gained as a point guard has really benefited him when he's in the game together (with Collison). It's so exciting to have two guys out there who can play and think like point guards."
Miles Beatty had 12 points and Maureece Rice added 11 to lead George Washington. Rice, back after serving a one-game suspension for breaking team rules, scored all his points in the first half. Cheyenne Moore had nine first-half points and didn't score in the second.
George Washington coach Karl Hobbs was disappointed in his team's performance.
"We have a lot of work to do to compete," he said. "We're not disciplined. We did not get back on defense.
"This team (UCLA) is very good. There is a reason whey they are projected to be a Final Four team."
UCLA's Alfred Aboya, who broke a bone under his right eye last Friday, played wearing bright yellow goggles borrowed from the Los Angeles Lakers. He scored six points.
Westbrook finished 9-of-9 from the free throw line and went 5-of-8 from the field. He scored 13 points as the Bruins took a 44-35 halftime lead.
Collison added eight points in the half and Shipp had seven for the Bruins.
Rice helped keep the Colonials in the game by going 3-of-6 from 3-point range and scoring 11 points, and Moore made all three of his shots from behind the arc to add nine points.
The Bruins had routed overmatched Yale in their last game. Before that, UCLA beat No. 10 Michigan State 68-63.
George Washington was coming off an 89-79 loss to Maryland-Baltimore County.