Los Angeles, CA - Darren Collison didn't stick around for his senior season at UCLA to have things go like this.
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The Bruins (15-4, 5-2 Pac-10) tumbled another four spots in the rankings this week after losing for the second time in three games. Their 86-75 defeat at Washington on Saturday also cost them first place in the Pac-10, a spot UCLA has owned for the last three years.
``Nobody is used to this adversity because of all the success,'' said Collison, a veteran of three consecutive Final Four who has lost just 21 games during four years in Westwood. ``This team is sick to their stomach of losing games. Every one of those losses has really hurt me.''
Collison finds himself playing with a lot of freshmen in his final year. As a result, he said, ``We're making some mistakes we didn't make the last two years.''
He's not pointing any fingers, although freshmen reserves Malcolm Lee, Drew Gordon, Jerime Anderson and J'mison Morgan haven't proved themselves to be dependable late-game contributors.
omment after the Washington game that the Bruins ``just don't have enough heart, basically'' was wrong, Collison said.
``That was just him being a freshman. He just wants us to play harder,'' the senior point guard said Tuesday. ``He knows it's a mistake he never should have said.''
Jrue Holiday is the lone freshman to have started all 19 games, but he's averaging just 9.4 points.
``Something needs to change,'' he said. ``In the second half, we just give up the lead. Something is wrong.''
Without Kevin Love in the middle, the Bruins are getting pounded physically and struggling offensively. Senior Alfred Aboya replaced Love, but hasn't duplicated the current NBA players' double-figure scoring and rebounding.
``We're going to lose more games if we don't penetrate,'' Collison said.
A year ago, Love muscled his way inside and drew fouls. No one is doing that now for the Bruins, who have been on the short end of a large discrepancy in free throws in their losses at Washington and to Arizona State.
``We need to be aggressive because we don't get to the foul line as much as other teams,'' Aboya said. ``I don't feel like they're looking to the post enough.''
Collison is averaging 31.6 minutes as the go-to scorer, while the other four starters are logging at least 20 minutes each. Collison is loath to admit he gets tired even if his fatigue is apparent.
e out how much (rest) can he give me without losing games,'' Collison said. ``I don't want to back down and just give it all away. It's up to us to push through it mentally.''
The Bruins didn't get off a final shot at home against Arizona State in a 61-58 loss - one that Collison took the blame for - that snapped their 10-game winning streak. They escaped with a two-point win at Washington State before being dominated in the second half at Washington.
Next up is California, a resurgent team under new coach Mike Montgomery. The Golden Bears (16-4) are tied with Arizona State and UCLA for second in the Pac-10, but like the Bruins, they've also lost two of three.
A year ago, UCLA swept all three games against Cal, but needed an improbable shot by Josh Shipp to win 81-80 at home.
If the Bruins wants to stay in the race for their fourth consecutive Pac-10 title, they can't afford many more slipups.
``Every game is a championship game to us now,'' Collison said. ``This thing is far from over. We're going to get back on track, that's my word.''
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