UCLA rebounds from slow start to drop Sam Houston

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Now comes the hard part for No. 1 UCLA.

Josh Shipp scored 18 points, Darren Collison had 11 points and
nine assists, and the Bruins overcame a sluggish start to beat
pesky Sam Houston State 75-61 on Tuesday night.

"We knew they'd be a hard team, their style of ball," UCLA
coach Ben Howland said. "They come out, they have that Princeton
offense. It's not fun, it's like a root canal. I'm just glad we got
the win.

"This game was good for us to test our mental toughness on
defense for long stretches of time. Other people are going to use
that tactic against us."

Other than a 65-62 triumph over No. 13 Texas A&M, the Bruins
breezed to one-sided victories over lesser opponents since winning
the Maui Invitational last month, beating Long Beach State by 30
points, UC Riverside by 23, Cal State Fullerton by 24 and Oakland
(Mich.) by 21.

The road figures to get much tougher because UCLA entertains
Michigan (11-1) on Saturday before opening its Pac-10 schedule next
week with home games against Washington State (10-1) and No. 17
Washington (8-1).

After that, the Bruins travel to face Oregon State (6-5), No. 21
Oregon (10-0) and Southern California (9-2).

"We've got a really tough road ahead," Howland said. "We have
20 games in a row, every one of them will be very highly contested,
starting with Michigan on Saturday.

"It's all starting now. We have to be mentally and physically
prepared. I thought we could be close to where we are right now,
but you have to take it one game at a time. Our league is the best
since I've been here."

Arron Afflalo added 12 points and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had
nine points and eight rebounds for the Bruins (10-0), who broke
open a close game midway through the second half.

Ryan Bright and Jejuan Plair each had 12 points and six rebounds
for Sam Houston State (6-5). Bright, who leads his team in scoring,
also had four steals before fouling out with 4:47 remaining. James
Barrett scored 12 points for the Bearkats.

The Bruins scored the first five points of the second half for a
40-29 lead before Sam Houston State went on an 11-4 run to make it
44-40. But that's as close as the Bearkats would get.

A 3-pointer by Michael Roll and six straight points by Shipp
extended UCLA's lead to 57-43 with 8:45 remaining, and the Bruins
led by as many as 21 points after that.

"When you play teams that slow you down, it's going to help you
in the long run," Shipp said.

UCLA missed 12 of its first 16 shots, but wound up going
27-of-50 (54 percent) and outrebounded Sam Houston State 32-30. The
Bearkats shot 26-of-57 (45.6 percent), including 2-of-16 from
3-point range.

The Bruins entered the game shooting just 59.8 percent from the
free throw line, but made their first 10 and 12-of-13 in the first
half. They finished 17-of-21 overall. The Bearkats were just
7-of-18 from the line.

UCLA didn't play like the nation's top-ranked team in taking a
35-29 halftime lead over Sam Houston State, preseason favorite to
win the Southland Conference's West Division.

Plagued by several slow starts this season, the Bruins got off
to another one as the Bearkats took a 9-2 lead in the opening four
minutes behind five points by Bright and four by Shamir McDaniel.

"You're going to have games like this. We've got to come out
with better intensity," Collison said. "We're playing good teams
coming up, so we have to pick up the intensity."

Sam Houston State led 14-11 when Shipp's first two baskets and
Afflalo's only field goal of the first half put the Bruins on top
for the first time. They led the rest of the way.

UCLA is one of four unbeaten teams in the Top 25, along with No.
8 Wichita State (9-0), No. 14 Connecticut (9-0) and Oregon (10-0).