After Three Straight
Los Angeles, CA - Even when he's not at his best, UCLA's Darren Collison is drawing the respect of his opponents.
Collison and the No. 14 Bruins look to win their third straight Wednesday when they face a winless and depleted Loyola Marymount team.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the UCLA –30.5 point spread favorites for Wednesday’s game against the Loyola Marymount. Current College Basketball Public Betting Information shows that 56% of more than 95 bets for this game have been placed on the UCLA –30.5.
UCLA (6-2) has gotten off to a perfect start in this six-game stretch of games played in the Los Angeles area. After beating Cal State Northridge 85-67 at home on Dec. 7, the Bruins defeated DePaul 72-54 at the Honda Center in Anaheim as part of the Wooden Classic to give coach Ben Howland his 300th career victory.
While his team has performed well, Collison, UCLA's leading scorer at 15.0 points, has been held below his season average in both games. He scored 13 against the Matadors and had a season-low 10 against the Blue Demons, shooting 4-of-9 from the field.
Collison is one of four upperclassmen to start for UCLA, which lost two of its top three scorers (Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook) from last season's team. Collison was the second-leading scorer on that 2007-08 squad, but he elected to stay another year.
"One of the things that separates teams is leadership," DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright said. "I told Darren Collison that I really appreciated the fact he decided to come back his senior year. Guys like that are important to college basketball."
UCLA has been a strong defensive team this season, limiting opponents to 59.4 points.
"I'm really glad we won. I was worried about this game," Howland said. "Early in the game, our first group did a great job attacking the zone. Our defense was very good, the first half in particular."
The Bruins have won 32 straight at home over unranked, non-conference opponents by an average of 19.6 points.
On Wednesday, UCLA looks to take advantage of a short-handed Loyola Marymount team (0-10), which has just seven scholarship players available.
After losing Terron Sutton (ACL) and Tim Diederichs (shoulder) earlier in the season, leading scorer Vernon Teel broke his right foot against Notre Dame on Nov. 26 and will be out for several more weeks. Teel averaged 15.5 points in four games and was also leading the team in rebounds (5.0).
Loyola Marymount is also uncertain about the status of Ashley Hamilton, who missed three games because of a back injury and seems to have re-aggravated the injury after playing 22 minutes in a 59-52 loss to California-Riverside on Monday.
The Lions are looking for their first win since a 72-67 victory over San Francisco on Feb. 4. Not helping matters is that coach Bill Bayno left the team Nov. 23 because of health reasons. This is the 45-year-old Bayno's first season at the helm.
"Recently, I was diagnosed with a serious medical condition, in part, related to the stress and anxiety of head coaching," he said. "It will require treatment which will force me to take a leave of absence. It is unfortunate and I feel badly for the University, the coaching staff and most of all my players and their families, all of whom I will miss very much. I ask for privacy for myself and my family and I thank you for your prayers and support."
Assistant Max Good has taken over for Bayno.
UCLA is 14-2 against Loyola Marymount after winning the last 11 meetings since a loss during the 1941-42 season. The Bruins won 69-66 in overtime on Dec. 13, 2003 in the most recent matchup.
Posted: 12/17/08 12:54AM ET