After shooting 13/37 from the field in his first three NCAA tournament games thus far, Arron Afflalo
finally had his breakout performance at the most opportune time possible as far as UCLA is concerned. He carried his team offensively in the 2nd half, and did so even while forced to use the traditionally weaker points of his game.
The way this game started, it looked as if we were heading for more of the same like we saw in the previous tournament games. Afflalo settled for too many 3-pointers with the long arms of Brandon Rush
right in his face, going 1/5 from behind the arc in the first half. He went to the other parts of his game to get himself going, though, running the floor in transition and finishing with layups, moving off the ball brilliantly and scoring in the post, pulling up off the dribble for open mid-range jumpers, and even creating his own shot from the perimeter on one occasion and finishing with a layup high off the glass. At this point he was really feeling it, which led to an incredible NBA range 3-pointer fading left sharply after pulling up off the dribble with the shot-clock about to expire, a shot that was a real turning point in the game for UCLA.
Defensively, he wasnt as good as were normally accustomed to seeing, having a tough time following Brandon Rush
around screens and letting him get by him on a number of opportunities. Luckily for him, though, Rush was unable to capitalize on many of these drives to the basket.
At the end of the day, regardless of whether you catch him on a good or bad night, Afflalo is still the same prospect hes always been. His lack of size, athleticism and ball-handling skills will always limit his upside, but his perimeter shooting, smarts and defensive ability should allow him to carve out a nice niche for himself in the league.