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December 16, 2007
LOS ANGELES(AP) The UCLA Bruins hope they did as well on their finals as they did in acing Idaho State.
Darren Collison tied his career high with 20 points and the eighth-ranked Bruins won 89-49 Saturday, the first time in three games the Bruins didn't have to rally to a victory.
"I really wanted to send a message because everyone was saying how rusty I was," said Collison, who had six rebounds and five assists while playing his fourth game after spraining his left knee in the preseason.
Ben Howland earned his 100th victory as UCLA coach, tying him with John Wooden and Steve Lavin as the second-fastest to do so. Wooden, who won a record 10 national championships, and Lavin, who was fired, both reached the milestone in 142 games. Jim Harrick, who was fired after winning the 1995 NCAA title, hit 100 in 136 games.
"It means we've had some really good players the last four years," Howland said of the milestone. "I feel very blessed and fortunate. I never thought I'd be coaching at UCLA. Not many people get to say they're actually living their dream."
Love had three exams during his first finals week. Now, the Bruins will put the books away and focus on basketball until classes resume in three weeks.
"At first, school was pretty easy - until the media came into it and everything got harder," said Love, a notorious joker.
Their next test should be just as easy, with Western Illinois visiting on Tuesday.
"Every game can be a stepping stone. It doesn't matter who you're playing," Love said. "We have less than three weeks until we play Stanford on the road. We want to be one of those teams that gets better."
"Unfortunately, we do not have enough people to contribute in this environment," Idaho State coach Joe O'Brien said. ``Why did we come out here? We came out here to get better."
The Bruins trailed by 16 points before losing to Texas 63-61 on Dec. 2 and fell behind by 18 points before beating Davidson 75-63 last weekend.
This time, it was no contest.
UCLA raced to a 26-7 lead that included 8-0 and 12-0 spurts while shooting 56.5 percent. The Bengals were held to 32 percent shooting in the first half, when they trailed 38-21.
"We were more active and got the ball into Kevin in the high post," Collison said.
The start of the final 20 minutes was a repeat of the opening minutes. UCLA ran off 15 unanswered points, with Love scoring four, for a 54-25 lead on its way to the team's biggest blowout of the season.
"With UCLA, if you don't play with a lot of energy, they are going to expose you," O'Brien said. "For 24 minutes, we played to our capabilities, but then UCLA turned up the intensity and took it up a notch."
The Bruins were 16-of-17 from the free throw line and controlled the boards, 43-24, improving to 9-0 when they outrebound opponents. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya made all four of their free throws, while Love hit 5-of-6.