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Bruins' stingy D turns Tigers into cats

INDIANAPOLIS -- If you love watching sweat dry, C-SPAN and the 12-disc DVD series on the history of Baroque Period painting, you'll love watching a replay of UCLA squeezing the Final Four life out of LSU.

The Bruins don't simply play defense, they roll you in bubble wrap, apply duct tape and send you home in an overnight package. It's about as sexy as Billy Packer in a Speedo, but it works. Gawd, does it work.

LSU isn't exactly Ole Miss, though the Tigers did miss a lot of shots Saturday evening at the RCA Dome. LSU won the SEC title, sent the AP Player of the Year J.J. Redick to the bench crying during its win against Duke in the regional semis, and then beat Texas to reach Indianapolis. But then UCLA gets a hold of the Tigers and turns them into cat chow, 59-45.

Remember that scene in "Titanic," when what's-her-face lets go of Leonardo DiCaprio and he slips into the darkness of the icy sea? That was LSU. And the Bruins were the ones who tied cement Nikes to the Tigers' ankles.

As the UCLA lead grew as though it were on Creatine, LSU coach John Brady and his assistants could only lean back in their blue folding chairs and shake their heads. Those Tiger team huddles during timeouts must have been keepers.

Brady: "Uh ..."

Actually, Brady did what he could with the grease pen and board during the T.O.s, but there aren't many 21-point plays you can call. And there's only so many times you can yell, "Let's go!" -- as Brady did at the end of those timeouts -- before it doesn't matter anymore.

It got so bad that the refs almost had to stop the game to ice down the bruise marks on LSU's rims. The Tigers weren't much of a perimeter team to begin with, but UCLA turned them into bricklayers.

The Bruins put the glove on LSU so tight that the Tigers missed 34 of 50 shots (32 percent). They also shot a sparkling zero percent from the 3-point line (0-for-6). Even when there was no one guarding them, the Tigers couldn't make a thing. Try 13-for-28 from the foul line.

"I thought our intensity defensively for the entire 40 minutes was really, really incredible," said UCLA coach Ben Howland. "That's the best defense we've played all year."

After a while, the only question was whether the Tigers could break the 40-point mark. They did, with 1:22 remaining. Free tacos for everyone!

UCLA ought to issue a commemorative instructional video after this one. If the Bruins are this stingy against Florida in Monday night's championship game (Big difference: the Gators can actually shoot the rock), then UCLA wins its 12th Final Four.

"We didn't show up and they did," said LSU guard Ben Voogd. "It's plain and simple."

The Bruins' defense makes grown men cry. LSU senior guard Darrel Mitchell was in full tear mode as early as 4:29 left to play. You'd cry too if your career ended in a blowout and you shot 3-for-9.

LSU's Glen "Big Baby" Davis was weep-free and, as it turned out, almost impact free. The Bruins' tag team of bigs (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ryan Hollins, Alfred Aboya, Lorenzo Mata) held Big Baby to 14 points -- and it took him 17 shots and 10 free throw attempts to reach double digits.

Davis, as likeable a player as there is in the Tournament, couldn't hide his frustration as the game progressed. When Brady pulled him for a breather midway through the second half, UCLA's fans began chanting, "Change. . . his. . . diaper." Davis draped a towel over his head.

And when he made a put-back with 8:28 left in the game, Davis muttered, "About time."

This is what happens when you play a UCLA team where every player seemingly has four arms. The Bruins held Memphis to a season-low 45 points in the regional final, and then held the Tigers to a season-low 45. UCLA owns the nation's longest win streak (12), which figures. Opponents are averaging just 53.9 points in those 12 consecutive Bruins victories.

It isn't hard to tell when UCLA's defense begins to have an effect.

"[Opposing teams] don't do the things they normally do," said Bruins point guard Jordan Farmar."They're looking at each other, pointing fingers. Sometimes their eyes get real big, like a deer in the headlights, like they don't know what hit them."

LSU played hard, but UCLA played harder. And better. Plus, they actually know how to hit a jump shot at times.

In the end, UCLA's defense was the difference. It always is with the Bruins.

Now back to our regularly schedule C-SPAN programming.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.