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November 19, 2007
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — UCLA freshman Kevin Love is proving to be a quick learner.
Love adjusted after being frustrated by Maryland's early physical play, scoring 18 points and grabbing 16 rebounds to help second-ranked UCLA overcome a sloppy first half in a 71-59 victory over Maryland on Monday night in the semifinals of the CBE Classic.
UCLA (4-0) had just eight scholarship players in uniform due to injuries to several key players and it showed early with numerous turnovers and bad shots. But the Bruins, led by Love's crisp passing against Maryland's press, settled things down by the second half.
UCLA moves onto the championship game Tuesday night against either No. 10 Michigan State or Missouri, which played later Monday.
Maryland (3-1) struggled its past two games, barely beating Hampton and Northeastern. The Terrapins had even more problems against UCLA, falling into an early hole, thanks to poor shooting and even worse ball handling, that they never fully recovered from.
Maryland had 21 turnovers and was just 1-for-11 on 3-pointers. Greivis Vasquez led the Terrapins with 18 points and Bambale Osby added 13.
Love had his way the first three games, averaging 20.7 points and 10.3 rebounds, while shooting 65 percent. But that was against the likes of Portland State, Youngstown State and Cal State-San Bernadino.
The burly 6-foot-10 freshman didn't have as much luck against the bigger, stronger Terrapins early, forcing up several shots against double teams without much success. He figured it out quickly, though, using patience against the banging instead of trying to bull through it.
Love had 10 rebounds in the first half and hit a 3-pointer before flipping in a quick tip shot at the buzzer to put the Bruins up 28-18.
He then hit a couple of tip-ins to start the second half, starting a 15-5 run that put UCLA up 43-23, and later made a crisp pass to break the press, setting up a 3-pointer by Russell Westbrook to end a brief Maryland run.
Love wasn't the only one who struggled early.
UCLA was again without point guard Darren Collison, who hasn't played since spraining his left knee in a preseason game Nov. 2. The Bruins struggled without their floor leader in the first half, turning the ball over 12 times and hitting just 11 of 33 shots against Maryland's pressure.
As bad as UCLA was, Maryland was worse.
The Terrapins couldn't seem to get out of their own way, dribbling out of bounds at least three times and blowing a 2-on-1 when Eric Hayes bounced a pass off Osby's leg.
Maryland had 14 turnovers and shot 8-of-24 from the floor in the first half, frustrating coach Gary Williams, who spent most of the half muttering to the players on the bench and putting his hands on his head in disbelief.