Add Xavier’s Sean Miller to the long list of opposing coaches who are amazed at what Kevin Love does, but Miller’s accolades came from the way Love plays defense and rebounds.
“We got one foul on Kevin Love in the first four minutes, and I got excited,” Miller said. “I think if we would have played 200 more minutes, he would not have picked his second foul up. He doesn’t foul.”
Of course, Love finished with three fouls in 33 minutes. He also had 19 points, 10 rebounds and for assists.
UCLA allowed 58 points in the second half of the regional semifinal against Western Kentucky, then allowed 57 points total in beating Xavier to advance to the Final Four. The Musketeers shot 36.2 percent from the field, which is their second-worst total of the season, but it didn’t surprise Bruins guard Russell Westbrook.
“We are a defensive team,” Westbrook said. “That’s what we do to start off the game. I think we did a great job of that, guarding everybody, rotating real well, getting out in transition. It was real good for us.”
Xavier coach Sean Miller said he could tell UCLA is tested when it comes to Elite Eight games, and the Bruins’ talent level did hurt, either.
“They really at a way about them, as if they’d been there before” Miller said. “Very patient on ofense, don’t crack easily, don’t flinch. Really stick to what makes them good.”
Miller lauded the play of UCLA point guard Darren Collison and center Kevin Love.
“You appreciate (Collison) a lot more when you play against him (rather) than watching him on t.v.” Miller said. “At the end of the (shot) clock, he just is incredible. He can make a shot himself. He makes his teammates better. And he has that dagger ability. When they need it, bang, he delivers.
“And then Love, obviously, is that extra special player that maybe UCLA hasn’t had in the past that could be the difference for them now because everything really starts and stops with him. He is so mobile for a big guy. It amazes me, to see him run around like he does and not foul, and plays the minutes that he plays. Very unique.”
UCLA fans chanted “one more year, one more year” to Bruins center Kevin Love, who joked the cheers could have been for any number of Bruins.
I’m just having fun now playing UCLA basketball, playing under coach (Ben) Howland with all my teammates,” Love said. “It feels great, but we have business to take care of next week.
“I’m not even thinking about the next level right now. I’m living in the now, living in the present so we can win these games next weekend.”
Here is the game story and notebook I wrote in today’s paper, and a column by Steve Dilbeck. Also, here is what UCLA coach Ben Howland said when asked if the season would be a disappointment if the Bruins did not win the national title.
“That would be very arrogant for me to ever suggest that if you go to a Final Four and don’t win it all, that it’s a failure,” he said. “I don’t buy that for a minute. This is a very difficult thing to do. I know it’s seemingly common place because it’s three times in a row.”
UCLA coach Ben Howland said the experience of losing to Florida the last two years in the Final Four should help the Bruins.
“The guys that returned from the previous couple of years have had that tough loss against Florida both times, and it was obviously very disappointing,” Howland said. “We were beat by a great team both years. Florida was just special.
“I think that the experience that the guys have played in those two (games) have gained, along with Russell (Westbrook) and James (Keefe), really helps this team.”
In the locker room, UCLA players were talking about losing in the Final Four the last two seasons, and how they weren’t going there this time to come home without a title.
“It definitely left a sour taste in our mouth,” UCLA wing Josh Shipp said. “We definitely have unfinished business. It would be great if we can accomplish this goal.”
UCLA freshman Kevin Love was named the West Region’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Bruins guards Daren Collison and Russell Westbrook were named to the All-Region team, as were WKU guard Tyrone Brazelton and Xavier forward Josh Duncan.
The Bruins are in the Final Four for the third consecutive season. So much for this matchup. UCLA beat Xavier 76-57. UCLA will play the winner of tomorrow’s Memphis-Texas game. Kevin Love had another incredible game with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Darren Collison had 19 points.