ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With their minds more on books than basketball during finals week, coach Ben Howland wondered how the UCLA Bruins (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) would play against DePaul.
He got the answer he was hoping for.Josh Shipp and Jrue Holiday scored 14 points each and UCLA won 72-54 in the John R. Wooden Classic doubleheader Saturday, giving Howland his 300th career victory.
• UCLA won its sixth straight game vs. DePaul and now leads the all-time series 12-6.
• The Bruins remain unbeaten (8-0) at the Wooden Classic when ranked, improving to 9-3 overall at the event.
• UCLA has won 17 of its last 18 games against unranked teams while DePaul has lost seven straight and 10 of its last 11 games vs. ranked opponents.
-- ESPN research
"I'm really glad we won. I was worried about this game," the coach 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."Howland improved to 300-146, including stints at Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh.Darren Collison added 10 points and five assists and Nikola Dragovic had 10 points for the Bruins (6-2). Freshman walk-on Tyler Trapani, Wooden's great-grandson, got into a game for the first time this season with 1:29 remaining. He missed his only shot, a 3-pointer."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."Mac Koshwal had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Blue Demons (4-4) in the teams' first meeting on a neutral court since 1980, when the Bruins defeated DePaul in the NCAA tournament a year after the Blue Demons surprised UCLA to reach their only Final Four."It was kind of tough," Koshwal said. "Every time I got the ball, I got double-teamed or I had a great defender on me."Dar Tucker, the Blue Demons' leading scorer, had 11 points after not starting for the first time this season because of "attitude issues," according to Wainwright."It's a really little thing and he accepted it," Wainwright said.Jeremiah Kelly's 3-pointer with 10:22 left got DePaul within 13 but the Blue Demons couldn't get any closer down the stretch."They have three seniors that are battle-tested," Wainwright said. "We have a very young team and we're kind of finding our way."When you make a mistake, they really get out and go. They convert mistakes into points really quickly."The Bruins soon built their lead back to 20 on consecutive baskets by Shipp in a game in which they ran a lot."We still start on the defensive end, which is what we did when I was in the Big East at Pittsburgh," Howland said. "We definitely want to push the ball. We got guys who can run and push the ball. When we get stops we want to take advantage of that."The Bruins outscored the Blue Demons 22-8 to end the half with a 35-19 lead -- their largest of the first 20 minutes. UCLA got balanced scoring, including 10 points from its reserves in the spurt, and held the Blue Demons to 38 percent shooting from the floor.UCLA improved to 8-3 in 12 Wooden Classic appearances, including 8-0 as a ranked team.Wooden watched the Bruins in person for the first time this season, albeit from a suite in a wheelchair instead of his usual seat among the fans. At 98, he doesn't get around as well since he broke his left wrist and collarbone in a fall in February.A smiling Wooden waved both hands to acknowledge a prolonged standing ovation late in the game. He made a move to get up from his chair, but thought the better of it as the crowd laughed.Wooden was wheeled onto the court to present the trophy to the Bruins."Anytime you're in coach Wooden's presence, it's a special thing," Shipp saidSaint Mary's defeated San Diego State 67-64 in the opening game for the second consecutive year.