March 16, 2006
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Once the UCLA Bruins started scoring, the Belmont Bruins never stood a chance.
Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored a career-high 17 points and UCLA routed the small Nashville school 78-44 Thursday in a first-round NCAA tournament matchup of similarly nicknamed teams.
Ryan Hollins added 10 points for No. 2 seed UCLA (28-6), which won its seventh straight after holding 15th-seeded Belmont to 21 second-half points. Belmont (20-11) had averaged 81.8 points.
UCLA's backcourt duo of Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo combined for 15 points.
Justin Hare, who came in averaging 15.9 points, Boomer Herndon and Andrew Preston had six points each for Belmont, which had its No. 1 fan, country singer Vince Gill, in the front row.
UCLA coach Ben Howland earned his first NCAA tournament victory since taking over in Westwood three seasons ago. Last year, the Bruins lost in the first round to Texas Tech.
They advanced to the second round for the first time since 2002 and will play 10th-seeded Alabama on Saturday in the Oakland Regional.
The victory was UCLA's 86th all-time in its 40th tournament appearance, trailing only Kentucky's 95 and North Carolina's 88. It was the school's biggest win since 2000, when the Bruins beat Maryland 105-70 in the second round.
Before things got ugly, Belmont didn't flinch in the early going of its first NCAA tournament appearance.
The Bruins of Nashville raced out to their largest lead of the game, 18-12, while UCLA missed 10 of its first 15 shots.
The game was tied four times before UCLA recovered with a 23-5 run - including 13 in a row - to end the half ahead 35-23. Moute scored seven points and Darren Collison added six.
Belmont committed a slew of its 10 turnovers during UCLA's spurt, including two consecutive by Andy Wicke that led to baskets by Collison. Its shooting also dipped to 35 percent from the floor by halftime.
UCLA's offensive tear continued into the second half, when the Bruins outscored Belmont 10-2 and extended their lead to 45-25.
They then ran off 13 straight points for a 60-28 lead as Belmont came up empty on possession after possession. Hare's struggles epitomized how bad things got - he tossed up an airball, then missed two free throws.
UCLA has held seven straight opponents to 60 points or less. Belmont rarely got a second shot on any possession, and even when it did, UCLA defenders had their arms in the air disrupting shots.
The huge lead allowed Howland to clear his bench with about eight minutes remaining. Even then, Belmont couldn't hang with the West Coast Bruins' reserves.