Eugene, OR – The No. 12-ranked team in the country, the UCLA Bruins travelled to play the Oregon Ducks in a Pac-12 matchup. Oregon won the first match-up in Los Angeles in overtime, after nearly squandering the lead. In front of a raucous crowd of 8,950, the Ducks prevailed once again. Despite turning the ball over 19 times, the Ducks rallied behind the overall solid performance of senior Jacob Young, to come away with a 68-63 upset win at Matthew Knight Arena Thursday Night. The win gives the Ducks a glimmer of hope for a NCAA tourney bid.
To start, both teams exchanged leads until Young began to assert himself for the duration of the game. At the 11:19 mark of the first half, Young had a beautiful hesitation crossover in transition and finished at the rim, giving Oregon a five-point edge. Every time Oregon needed a play, the 6-3 point guard used his creative ball handling to either score or setup his teammates. Later in the half, he penetrated, stopped on a dime, dribbled back through his leg, and dished to teammate Franck Kepnang for the slam. His overall game was the difference in putting Oregon past the Bruins, in which he had 14 points (5-for-11 FG), six assists to only two turnovers and five rebounds.
The Ducks held onto the lead for the remainder of the opening half and could have easily extended the lead, but turnovers prevented the lead from growing. The Bruins kept pace with Oregon in part to the scoring of Tyger Campbell. Only listed at 5-11, he is an under-control point guard, who was instrumental in the Bruins 2021 Final Four tournament run. On several plays, Campbell utilized the ball screen effectively at the top of the key, and stepped into a mid-range jumper, connecting on multiple attempts. Campbell had 10 of his 12 points in the first half. For the game he shot 5-for-12 from the field, but only 1-for-6 on 3s. Campbell’s teammate and leading scorer for the Bruins, Johnny Juzang (17.5 PPG) contributed in the scoring department by adding seven points. He went 2-for 6 from the field, before having to leave the game due to a leg injury. This injured occurred leading the fast break in transition and getting tripped up on an attempted lay-in at the basket. He would not return to the game.
Oregon looked to put the game out of reach to start the second half and a boost came from bench player Kepnang. The 6-11, 250 center, made several keys plays during a 13-5 run that gave the Ducks their biggest lead of the game at 48-35 with 13:55 remaining. First, Kepnang would receive a precision pass from Quincy Guerrier for the slam. Moments later he scored on the block with a jump hook, and last, would convert both free throw attempts after getting fouled. Furthermore, he had huge contributions throughout the game on the defensive end by blocking three shots around the basket. The sophomore added nine rebounds and eight points (3-for-4 FG) for the game. The Ducks out-rebounded the Bruins by a 44-33 margin with Kepnang being a major reason for that.
The lead for Oregon evaporated quickly behind a Bruins offensive surge as UCLA put the clamps down on the Oregon offense. UCLA took advantage of the Ducks mistakes to go on a 19-5 run, regaining the lead at 54-53 with the putback lay-in by Jaime Jaquez Jr. It was for the first time UCLA led since the score was 6-5 in the opening minutes of the game. Jaquez Jr. was a force in the paint during the comeback. The Bruins designed high low action plays for the 6-7 junior to catch the ball over the top, and finish at the rim. He is interchangeable between a shooting guard and small forward, but his post-up game creates mismatches for opponents. He is still considered a prospect for the upcoming NBA Draft, if he can display more consistency for longer stretches in games. Jaquez Jr. recorded 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting and five rebounds before fouling out late in the game. Losing him late in the contest along with Johnny Juzang’s injury hurt the Bruins chances to win. Another factor in the Bruins loss was the poor 3-point shooting. UCLA connected only 4-of-24 attempts from beyond the arc.
When Oregon seemed to have completely lost momentum, De’Vion Harmon would come up big with a catch and shoot 3-pointer at the top of the key to put Oregon up by five points with two and half minutes remaining. On the ensuing possession, Young rejected the screen from the wing, drove left and finished at the basket around two defenders to give Oregon a 64-57 lead with 1:42 remaining, to seal the win for the Ducks. Harmon shot the ball very consistently on the night going 5-for-7 from the field to finish with a game high 17 points. He connected on 3-of-5 attempts from downtown and grabbed six rebounds. His 4-for-5 shooting from the strike assisted in the Ducks shooting 79 percent (19-for-24 FT) collectively.
Oregon (18-10, 11-6) will face their second Top-25 team in a row when facing USC (23-4, 12-4) on Saturday. Next up for UCLA (20-6, 12-5) will be Oregon State (3-22, 1-14) on Saturday afternoon.