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UCLA’s Lorenzo Mata cut down the net in celebration of his team’s 68-55 win over Kansas in the West Regional Finals in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday.
AP photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez
UCLA’s Lorenzo Mata cut down the net in celebration of his team’s 68-55 win over Kansas in the West Regional Finals in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday.

UCLA disposes of top-seeded Kansas

By Greg Beacham
Associated Press Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Arron Afflalo will get a second chance to shine in the Final Four — and he earned it by seizing the spotlight when UCLA most needed its leader.

In an exceptional second half that should help erase memories of his past mediocrity in big games, Afflalo scored 15 of his 24 points and the Bruins held off top-seeded Kansas for a 68-55 victory Saturday night in the West Regional championship.

Darren Collison added 14 points and four big free throws in the final seconds while leading the Bruins’ stellar defensive effort — but whenever the Bruins faced offensive trouble, Afflalo seemed to solve it, either by hitting a big shot or drawing the defense to set up a teammate.

“I don’t really think about it during the game, but when you’re making shots, you’re gaining confidence,” said Afflalo, who was 6-for-6 in the second half. “My teammates showed a lot of confidence in me. Keep shooting, keep playing. That has to be a scorer’s mentality.”

Second-seeded UCLA (30-5) made its halftime lead stand up in an appropriately tense meeting between two schools with rich traditions and a combined 29 Final Four appearances — including an NCAA-record 17th for UCLA this week in Atlanta. The Bruins, who lost to Florida in last season’s national title game, could be in for a rematch: They’ll meet Sunday’s winner of the Gators’ regional final against Oregon.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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