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April 1, 2006

Bruins knocking on the door

INDIANAPOLIS -- Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute proved that it was UCLA that had the inside attack that was good enough to play for a championship. Mbah a Moute scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half as second-seeded UCLA rolled to a 59-45 victory over No. 4 Louisiana State in the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Advancing to the national title game for a record 13th time and first since 1995, UCLA (32-6) will face third-seeded Florida on Monday. It will be the first meeting between both schools. The Bruins are seeking their 12th title.

Completely overlooked because of the dominating play by the Tigers' Glen Davis also known as "big Baby" and Tyrus Thomas in the Atlanta Region last weekend against heavyweights Duke and Texas, Mbah a Moute did not appear intimidated as helped the Bruins race out to an impressive start.

The Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Mbah a Moute scored off an offensive rebound for a 9-4 edge and added a steal and a dunk to make it 18-8 with 12:29 remaining.

In all, the 6-7 forward made all three of his attempts from the field in the first half and went 6-of-6 on free throws as UCLA went into the break with a 39-24 advantage.

Struggling against the Bruins' strong defensive presence, Davis and Thomas mustered just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting over the opening 20 minutes.

Unfortunately for LSU (27-9), which was making its first appearance in the Final Four since 1986, the onslaught continued after the break.

Mbah a Moute had a pair of dunks in the opening moments and Jordan Farmar hit a 3-pointer and a added a jumper off a steal to cap an 11-3 run that made it 50-27 with 15:29 to play.

It was the largest deficit of the season up until that point for the Tigers, who finished with the lowest point total in a Final Four contest since Wisconsin mustered 41 in a semifinal loss to eventual champion Michigan State in 2000.

Mbah a Moute finished with nine rebounds and Farmar had 12 points for UCLA, which has held all but one of its last 11 opponents under 60 points.

Davis scored 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting before fouling out for the Tigers, who shot 32 percent (16-of-50), including 0-of-6 from the arc, and committed 15 turnovers.



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