No. 12 UCLA aims to avenge loss to Oregon
No. 12 UCLA aims to avenge its loss earlier this season to Pac-12 foe Oregon when it travels to Eugene, Ore., on Thursday night.
The host Ducks (17-10, 10-6 Pac-12) knocked off UCLA in overtime on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles, 84-81. Oregon lost by that same score last Saturday to Arizona, marking its third loss in the last four games.
Its recent slide has Oregon in a difficult spot for earning an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. The Ducks are ranked No. 63 in the NCAA's NET metrics through games played on Monday, with just four regular-season contests to improve their standing.
In his postgame radio interview following the loss at Arizona, Oregon coach Dana Altman praised the team's effort. He added similar effort has been lacking in other recent performances.
"I told our guys that the only thing I'm upset about (is) we don't play this hard all the time," Altman said. "Our fans got to be disappointed. We played to the level of competition and just didn't get it done."
The Ducks led the current No. 2 Wildcats for 22:44 of the contest, thanks in part to 18 points off turnovers and 38 points in the paint. Their lead grew to as many as 12 points in the first half before Arizona chipped away.
Oregon scored almost identical totals in the overtime win at UCLA, with 38 points in the paint and 17 points off turnovers. The Ducks forced the Bruins into 13 turnovers, well above UCLA's current season average of just 9.5 per game.
The Bruins (20-5, 12-4) come into Eugene with the nation's fifth-best rate of possessions resulting in turnovers at just 13.8 percent, per KenPom.com metrics. Oregon ranks No. 66 nationally in percentage of defensive possessions resulting in takeaways at 20.5.
The Ducks held UCLA to 39.7 percent shooting from the floor in January. In all five of their losses, the Bruins have made less than 40 percent of their field-goal attempts.
They shot just 21 of 53 for 39.6 percent on Monday against Arizona State but held the Sun Devils to 5 of 19 shooting from 3-point range. UCLA went to the free-throw line 20 times to Arizona State's four en route to a 66-52 win.
Johnny Juzang, UCLA's leading scorer at 17.5 points per game, shot 0-of-5 from 3-point range on Monday in his return from a one-game absence due to hip soreness.
Juzang and Cody Riley missed the Bruins' 76-50 rout of Washington on Saturday, but Jaylen Clark helped pick up the slack with a career-high 25 points -- one game after setting his career mark with 18 points starting in place of Tyger Campbell against Washington State.
Clark continued his impressive scoring run with 16 points on Monday.
"I tried to tell you guys in October," UCLA coach Mick Cronin said, citing COVID-19 protocol pauses for slowing Clark earlier in the season. "Hopefully, we can keep him on a run. I wish he would stop trying to dunk on people. I see our season flashing before my eyes as he's up in the air."
With Clark on a tear and reserve David Singleton playing well, UCLA is showing even more depth to a lineup that features four scorers of 11.7 points or more per game.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 22, 2022