Eugene, OR – In a game that will go a long way in determining the regular season Pac-12 champion, the UCLA Bruins took a half-game conference lead to Eugene to face the Oregon Ducks. Oregon ratcheted up their defense in the second half to walk away with an 82-74 win. Chris Duarte led the Ducks with 23 points while LJ Figueroa (18), Will Richardson (15) and Eugene Omoruyi (15) also scored in double-figures. Jules Bernard led the Bruins with a season-high 23 points. Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 15 points. This was Oregon’s seventh game with six wins over 14 days. The Ducks can win the regular season Pac-12 title with a win at rival Oregon State on Sunday.
Oregon’s defense got them back into the game after they fell behind by nine points in the second half. They used their press to force the Bruins into 12 second half turnovers and came up with eight second half steals. Their defense turned the game around as before their run the Bruins were shooting over 60 percent from the field. UCLA only made three of their last thirteen shots from the field. The Ducks depended mostly on their starting five with Richardson playing all 40 minutes and the other starters playing at least 32 minutes. Oregon’s bench only played 24 minutes and scored three points. Chandler Lawson did help a great deal in the second half in the press in his 15 minutes of action forcing the Bruins into some bad passes and six turnovers while he was on the court.. Figueroa was the main beneficiary as he came up with four second half steals.
The first half was close throughout with both teams playing effectively offensively and committing few turnovers. UCLA took a 39-37 lead into halftime. The largest lead of the half was four points by both teams. The Bruins shot 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field while Oregon connected 53.6 percent (15-of-28) of their shots including 5-of-10 from deep. UCLA’s Bernard, a 6-6 junior guard, hit his first six shots, went 6-of-7 overall and led both teams with 15 points at the half. Jaquez Jr. made all his three shots, including two three-pointers to score eight points. Omoruyi, Duarte and Eric Williams Jr. all scored eight points to lead the Ducks. Williams Jr. made both his three-point attempts and also pulled down a game-leading eight rebounds. Duarte made 4-of-5 of his two-point shots. UCLA had a big 30-14 edge in points in the paint. There were only six turnovers in the half with the Ducks committing four. The teams combined to shoot only three free throws, with Oregon making their two and UCLA missing their only attempt.
Oregon went on a 7-0 run early in the second half helped by a Duarte steal and basket to take a 46-44 lead. UCLA came right back and ran off five straight points to regain the lead at 49-46. They pulled out to a nine-point lead (56-47) on another Bernard three-pointer. The Bruins continued their hot shooting, connecting on nine of their first twelve shots of the half. Oregon stayed close and pulled within two (62-60) on a Lawson three-point play as he scored inside on a nice feed from Omoruyi. The Ducks then tied the game on two free throws by Duarte after a Lawson steal and took the lead after a steal and dunk from Omoruyi. The Ducks completed a 15-2 run on a layup by Richardson to take a four-point lead. UCLA tied the game at 68 on a three-point play by Cody Riley (11 points). Oregon then scored seven straight points, capped by a Duarte three from the wing, his first made three-pointer of the game. Duarte and Richardson put the finishing touches on the win, with a Duarte block at the rim followed by a Richardson three-pointer to extend the lead to ten points with 1:07 remaining.
Both teams shot over 50 percent from the field with UCLA at 55 percent and Oregon at 61 percent but the Ducks had a big advantage on three-pointers (8-of-17) compared to 6-of-18 for the Bruins. The Ducks shot 69.6 percent (16-of-23) in the second half. Oregon drove the ball to the rim and narrowed UCLA’s edge in points in the paint to 42-40. In the second half the Ducks outscored UCLA inside 26-12. Driving the ball inside helped the Ducks to 16 free throw attempts, 14 in the second half, compared to seven attempts for UCLA. The team battled evenly on the boards with 24 rebounds each.
Oregon (18-5, 13-4) will face Oregon State in Corvallis on Sunday to attempt to win the conference title. UCLA (17-7, 13-5) has a big game against USC next week.