Eugene, OR – Oregon lost its sixth game during Pac-12 play as UCLA topped the Ducks with 70-68 at Matthew Knight Arena on Thursday. Travis Wear scored with just 5.3 seconds left to give the Bruins the lead. Johnathan Loyd then drove the court but his shot was blocked at the buzzer to give UCLA the win.
The Ducks led 36-32 at the half and it looked like an entirely new defensive-minded squad. Oregon mixed in multiple looks in the first half, using zone defenses and pressuring full court on occasions. UCLA shot 9-of-23 from the floor and lacked an offensive flow.
The Bruins opened the second half with a complete different attitude and went on a 13-2 run behind eight points from Norman Powell. They led by as much as 11 in the second half, but Joseph Young and Jason Calliste combined to score the following thirteen Oregon points as the Ducks led 66-65 with 1:17 left. Richard Amardi connected on two free throws on the next possession to take a three-point lead; however, that was the final points for the Ducks on Thursday. Jordan Adams replied with an old-fashioned three-point play on the next possession and Calliste’s next three went around and out. After forcing a jump ball on a missed shot, UCLA retained possession with 8.5 seconds left. Wear went on to sink a put-back with only seconds remaining to give UCLA the win.
After a minor shooting slump, Young was off to a hot start on Thursday. He made his first two baskets, both from behind the arc, and entered the half with 16 points (4-of-5 FG, 3-of-4 3FG). He finished with a game-high 25 points in front of NBA personnel. Calliste added an additional 22 points including four three-pointers. The transfer guards were the primary scorers and most of the offense.
Adams led UCLA with a team-high 19 points. The sophomore shooting guard was 6-of-10 from the floor and 2-of-3 from behind the arc. He has a strong build for his 6-foot-5 frame which helped him corral six rebounds. Adams is a fringe second round pick, but helped his stock against Oregon. Potential first round picks Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine struggled, as they combined to score eight points on 2-of-13 shooting. Anderson showed flashes as a creator with 10 assists, but also had a career-high nine turnovers that prevented the Bruins from getting into a rhythm at times.
LaVine comes off the bench for UCLA as an offensive spark, but that didn’t happen on Thursday. He was 1-of-5 from the field and 0-of-2 from three en route to a two-point performance. The 6-foot-5 athletic shooting guard has shown to be a much bigger offensive threat this season, but LaVine’s play against Oregon shows how he can still make major strides before entering the draft. There’s been murmurs of LaVine going in the lottery, but it’s based primarily on his upside.
The Bruins showed plenty of potential as a Pac-12 contender despite an off night, which makes the road win that much more impressive, but it will be tough for any team to unseat the number one ranked Arizona Wildcats.
After starting the season 13-0, Oregon is now 14-6 and 2-6 in conference play. The Ducks will now need a strong finish to the season to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
Cameron Schott is a Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball.