Sunday, March 17, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Oregon 78, UCLA 69
By Jason King
LAS VEGAS -- A few quick thoughts from Oregon's 78-69 victory over UCLA in the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Overview: Oregon will enter the NCAA tournament full of momentum after capping a brilliant showing in the Pac-12 tournament with a gritty win over regular-season champion UCLA in Saturday's title game.
UCLA wasn't at full strength following the loss of second-leading scorer Jordan Adams to a broken foot in Friday's semifinal. Still, Adams' absence shouldn't do anything to diminish an impressive effort by the Ducks, who beat Washington and Utah before topping the Bruins on Saturday.
The Pac-12 will likely send five teams to the NCAA tournament, but none of them needed a shot of adrenaline as badly as Oregon. It was only a week ago when Dana Altman's squad threw away a chance at a regular-season title by dropping back-to-back contests to Colorado and Utah. A victory in either of those games would've given Oregon at least a share of the championship. Instead they finished league play 12-6 and in a three-way for second behind UCLA (13-5).
Oregon was definitely the better team Saturday. It led 41-32 at halftime and then held on after intermission. The Ducks finished 2-0 against the Bruins this season. Oregon led by as many as 12 points in the second half.
Larry Drew II and Shabazz Muhammad each scored 14 points for UCLA, which placed all five starters in double figures. Ben Howland's squad finished 13-of-22 from the foul stripe and committed 14 turnovers. Five of them were by Drew II, who leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.
What's next: The NCAA tournament. Oregon is the Pac-12's automatic qualifier, while UCLA will try to bounce back from the adversity of losing Adams, who will be unable to play.