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November 20, 2007

No. 2 UCLA able to fight off Michigan State

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kevin Love got UCLA started. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute finished it off.

Love had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Mbah a Moute hit a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left, helping second-ranked UCLA rebound from a miserable first half to beat No. 10 Michigan State 68-63 on Tuesday night in the championship game of the CBE Classic.

UCLA (5-0) couldn't get anything going in the first half, forcing up shots inside, missing open ones on the outside. The Bruins got back in it behind the shooting of Josh Shipp and Russell Westbrook.

Shipp had 14 of his 18 points in the second half to trim a 13-point first-half deficit to 56-54, then Westbrook scored eight straight points, tying the game at 58-all on a steal and breakaway dunk with 4 minutes left.

Michigan State's Drew Neitzel hit a 3-pointer from the key to put the Spartans up 63-58, then Love had a three-point play to make it 63-61 with just under two minutes left. Mbah a Moute tied it on a rebound slam 15 seconds later, then put the Bruins up 66-63 with a 3-pointer from the corner.

Neitzel, who didn't start because of flu-like symptoms, attempted a long 3-pointer with 11 seconds left, but missed everything and Shipp sealed it with two free throws at the other end.

Michigan State (3-1) appeared to be headed toward a rout after swarming the Bruins most of the first half.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo was concerned about switching gears so quickly after Monday's semifinals, facing the speed and athleticism of Missouri one night, UCLA's bruising front line the next.

The Spartans didn't have any trouble making the adjustment. If anything, they seemed to enjoy the physical play inside and the room it created on the perimeter, jumping out to a 36-25 by halftime.

Michigan State did it with a surprisingly physical defense, banging the Bruins into missing their first nine shots and holding them to 7-of-29 from the field in the first half.

While the bruising style knocked the rest of the Bruins off-kilter early, Love thrived on it.

Touted for his exceptional passing and deft shooting touch for a big man, the 6-foot-10 freshman showed off his rough side against Michigan State, banging Idong Ibok and Raymar Morgan for post position, and bulling past the Spartans for rebounds.

Love missed his first four shots, all inside as he was banged around, and took a shot to the side of the head while chasing a loose ball early on, but never stopped fighting. He had 11 points and eight rebounds by halftime, and spent the second accumulating fouls on Michigan State's big men, fouling Ibok and Drew Naymick out.

Love finished 9-of-12 from the floor.

For more coverage of UCLA, visit BruinBlitz.com. For more coverage of Michigan State, visit SpartanMag.com.

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