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December 29, 2007

Cal Davis at UCLA Preview

UCLA plays its final non-conference game of the season Saturday when it welcomes UC Davis to Pauley Pavilion.

The fifth-ranked Bruins (11-1) have won the last two Pac-10 regular-season titles and will begin defense of those crowns Thursday at Stanford. They have gone 29-7 in conference play over those two seasons.

Before getting into the meat of its schedule, UCLA looks to tune up in its first game since coach Ben Howland gave the squad three days off for the holidays. The Bruins dispersed for their break after last Saturday's 69-54 win at Michigan.

After trailing by as many as eight points in the second half, UCLA eventually took control as Josh Shipp had 15 of his 19 points in the final 20 minutes to help ignite the rally.

Freshman star Kevin Love had 17 points and 16 rebounds for his sixth double-double, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 12 and 13, respectively.

"We didn't do a good job of feeding the post - there were times that Kevin was wide open and we didn't get him the ball," Howland said. "But 29 points and 29 rebounds from our 4 and our 5? I'll take that every game."

Love has been sensational, averaging team highs of 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 59 percent. He's second in the nation among freshmen in rebounding behind only Kansas State's Michael Beasley.

The Bruins are also hoping that All-American point guard Darren Collison will be better after the time off. Collison missed the first six games due to a left knee strain and scored a season-low seven points on 2-of-8 shooting against Michigan.

UCLA top reserve Lorenzo Mata-Real is doubtful for this game after straining his left groin on Wednesday. He's second on the team in rebounding at 5.6 per game.

Since their only loss to then-No. 8 Texas on Dec. 2, the Bruins have won four straight by an average of 23.0 points.

They can probably expect another lopsided result against UC Davis (5-6), which has lost three of its last four games. The Aggies suffered their worst loss to an unranked opponent this season, 81-57 last Friday at Jackson State.

UC Davis has lost 12 straight on the road, including all five games in 2007-08. The Aggies, however, have matched their win total from last season's 5-23 campaign.

This is their second game against a ranked team after falling 73-42 at then-No. 16 Texas on Nov. 16.

The Aggies' best player is Vince Oliver, who averages a team-high 13.1 points and is also a part-time actor, having appeared on shows such as "NYPD Blue" and "Sunset Beach."

Oliver, however, is shooting just under 39 percent.

This is the first meeting between UCLA and UC Davis.



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