ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP)—Arron Afflalo’s focus during film sessions paid off.
Afflalo scored 20 points and made a key steal and assist late to help No. 14 UCLA hold off a late rally and beat Michigan 68-61 Saturday.
The Bruins led by 13 with 4:35 to go, but were clinging to a 63-59 lead a couple of minutes later. That’s when Afflalo stepped in front of Michigan point guard Daniel Horton to steal Graham Brown’s outlet pass, then made a short pass to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for a layup that put the Bruins ahead by six with 1:23 left.
“That was the play of the game,” said UCLA coach Ben Howland.
Afflalo gave the credit to Howland for pointing out one of Horton’s tendencies.
“We watched so much film and saw Horton is always running away from the ball when a big man gets the rebound,” Afflalo said. “It was a crucial point, and I saw an opportunity because I saw the big man wasn’t paying too much attention.”
Jordan Farmar had 21 points for the Bruins (8-1), who are off to their best start since the 1997-98 season.
“It was a huge game. Our first road game,” Afflalo said. “If we can beat this team on the road, things can only get better for us.”
Michigan (7-1), which was undefeated through seven games for the first time in nine years, found out it’s not quite ready for the Top 25 after facing the Bruins.
“They’re deserving of their ranking and their reputation,” Wolverines coach Tommy Amaker said. “We have a ways to go—obviously.”
Michigan’s top two scorers struggled.
Center Courtney Sims, double teamed each time he touched the ball, took two shots and scored six points—10.4 below his average.
“That was huge for us,” Howland said.
Horton was 5-for-17 from the field—missing all seven of his 3-point attempts—for 10 points. He had six assists and five turnovers.
“This was a tough loss,” Horton said. “That steal (Afflalo) made at the end was a big play, and you have to give him credit.”
Michigan reserve Chris Hunter had 15 points, Dion Harris scored 14 and Lester Abram added 12.
Afflalo had 17 of his 20 points in the first half, helping UCLA lead by as many as seven points. Farmar had 15 of his 21 after halftime, keying a 31-12 run in the second half.
“Afflalo carried us in the first half,” Howland said. “Farmar took over in the second.”
Michigan took an 8-0 lead as the Bruins missed their first eight shots, before UCLA got into the game. Both teams took turns going on spurts in the first half, before Michigan led 34-32 at halftime.
Michigan was ahead 38-32 early in the second half before Farmar’s 3-pointer started the decisive run.