Saturday, January 21, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Oregon 75, UCLA 68
By Peter Yoon
EUGENE, Ore. -- UCLA blew a 13-point halftime lead and lost, 75-68, to Oregon on Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena, a devastating loss for a Bruins team that appeared as if it would be able to salvage a split on the Oregon trip but remains without a victory over a Division I team away from Southern California.
The Bruins (10-9, 3-4 Pac-12) return to the Sports Arena this week to face Utah and Colorado.
Overview: UCLA dominated the early going, building a lead as big as 15 points and taking a 37-24 lead at halftime by playing sound defense. Oregon shot only 22.6 percent from the field in the first half and went the last 9:56 of the half with only one made field goal.
Things were much different in the second half for the Bruins, who gave up 51 points and allowed Oregon to shoot 50 percent from the field. Oregon forward E.J. Singler was a one-man wrecking crew as he scored a career-high 26 points with seven rebounds. He made 16 of 17 free throws.
The Bruins had four players score in double figures. Travis Wear led the way with 17 and Lazeric Jones added 14. Jerime Anderson added 10 and David Wear also had 10 points before hyper-extending his left knee late in the game. He will have an MRI exam when the team returns home.
Turning point: Oregon began the second half with a 15-2 run to tie the score at 39-39 and rattled UCLA. The Bruins fought back to take a 50-42 lead, but Oregon never let up, taking a 52-50 lead on a put back by Singler with 7:49 to play and the Ducks (15-5, 5-2) never again lost the lead.
UCLA star of the game: Anthony Stover's final stat line won't stand out much as he had only two points and four rebounds, but his defensive presence changed the game every time he was on the floor.
He finished with four blocked shots in only 11 minutes and altered many others. His defensive energy sparked the Bruins for key stretches and Oregon seemed to have trouble scoring whenever Stover was in the game.
Travis Wear had a solid statistical game with 17 points and seven rebounds while David Wear added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Stat of the game: UCLA was abysmal from the free-throw line, making only 10 of 21 attempts (47.6 percent). It didn't seem to matter much in the first half, when the Bruins made only 1 of 8 free throws and still had a 13-point lead, but imagine the mountain Oregon would have had to climb had that lead been 20 points instead. And 11 missed free throws in a seven-point loss really hurts.
Perhaps most surprising is that the Wear twins, among the best free-throw shooters on the team, combined to make 4 of 9. Travis Wear missed his first two attempts, ending a string of 20 consecutive made free throws.
What it means: The Bruins were picked to win the Pac-12 conference, but are now fighting to keep the season afloat. They fell below .500 in conference play and to 1-4 in conference road games.
The Bruins play five of the next seven at home and have a chance to get things headed in the right direction, but the idea of UCLA winning the conference title now seems pretty far-fetched and a berth in the NCAA tournament will certainly be available only if UCLA wins the Pac-12 tournament as UCLA's RPI will drop. UCLA's only win outside of Southern California is a victory over Division II Chaminade at the Maui Invitational in November.