UCLA: Tajuan Porter

Breaking down tonight's possible scenarios

March, 4, 2010
TUCSON -- UCLA fans might get a good indication for what to expect in next weekend's Pacific 10 Conference tournament by how the Bruins play tonight against Arizona. The Bruins were thoroughly dominated by Arizona when the teams played in early January. But since then, UCLA has improved defensively -- primarily by switching to a 2-3 zone. We lay out some keys to tonight's game at the McKale Center:

UCLA likely wins if ...
  • ... freshman Reeves Nelson, coming off left-eye surgery, plays the way he is capable of. Nelson participated in full-contact practice Wednesday but might be rusty after sitting out both games last weekend. He can rebound and is an offensive force if (and it's a BIG if) the guards can get him the ball. Nelson also has to keep Arizona's Derrick Williams from having a monster game inside.
  • ... it is effective on offense. Arizona ranks last in the conference with more than 71 points given up per game, meaning UCLA has to secure high-percentage attempts and capitalize on fastbreak opportunities.
UCLA likely loses if ...
  • ... Arizona guard Nic Wise does what Oregon's Tajuan Porter did to the Bruins last weekend. Porter scored a game-high 29 points to spoil UCLA's Senior Day at Pauley Pavilion -- and Wise will look to make the most of his final weekend in front of the 'Zona Zoo.
  • ... Michael Roll does not get any support. Either Nelson, Malcolm Lee, Tyler Honeycutt or Nikola Dragovichave to follow Roll's lead offensively. If Roll is hitting from outside -- as he was last weekend -- someone will have to supplement that.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:36 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Net.

Revisiting Oregon

March, 1, 2010
We broke down a few possible scenarios that might determine the outcome of last Saturday's UCLA-Oregon basketball game at Pauley Pavilion. Here's a refresher:
UCLA likely loses if ...

  • ... it is unable to stop Oregon at the end of the game. The Ducks scored 12 unanswered points in the final six minutes Thursday to defeat USC at the Galen Center. Before that, Oregon had lost five straight -- its last two wins coming in late January against the Los Angeles schools. Michael Rollforced overtime at McArthur Court by sinking a three-pointer, but the Ducks went on a 10-4 run to put the Bruins in a tough spot.

  • The Bruins certainly didn't stop Oregon guard Tajuan Porter, a senior who stole the spotlight on UCLA's senior day. Porter nailed the game-winning three-pointer with less than a minute left to hush an electric crowd that had seen UCLA storm back from down 14.

    Another one:
    UCLA likely wins if ...

  • ... seniors Roll and Nikola Dragovic rise to the occasion in their final game inside Pauley. ... Roll has a chance to go out on a good note, needing only four 3-pointers to move into fourth place on UCLA's all-time list for 3-pointers made. Dragovic, meanwhile, will be playing in front of his family for the first time since he arrived at UCLA. The 6-foot-9 forward has faced adversity this season, both on and off the court. He hurt his left shoulder diving for a loose ball early in Thursday's 65-56 win against Oregon State, but quickly returned and scored 14 points in the second half.

  • Dragovic failed to make an impact in his final game at Pauley. Roll did his part, tying a career-high with 25 points. But Dragovic scored just seven and missed all but one of his six attempts from beyond the arc.
    A large number of fans remained scattered throughout Pauley Pavilion nearly an hour after UCLA's 70-68 loss to Oregon on Saturday afternoon.

    Children ran around pulling on their jerseys, holding pens and programs, scavenging for leading scorers Michael Roll and Malcolm Lee.

    A line gathered around Nikola Dragovic too. The senior signed autographs and posed for pictures whenever he was approached. Dragovic had a smile for every flash, though he might have very well been the unhappiest person in the building.

    In his final home game, a season-long trend continued -- Dragovic left something to be desired. He scored seven points, missing all but one of his six 3-point attempts. Despite staying around the paint on the defensive end, the 6-foot-9 forward grabbed only one rebound in 34 minutes. Oregon capitalized inside, pulling down 13 offensive rebounds and scoring 13 second-chance points.

    A more frightening thought? Roll and Lee, mostly perimeter players who were busy chasing around Tajuan Porter, combined for seven rebounds. Dragovic played 11 more minutes than freshman Brendan Lane, yet Lane had four more rebounds.

    Granted, none of this comes as a surprise. Dragovic will not be winning any athletic competitions any time soon, but a freak accident during pregame warm-ups didn't help his cause. Dragovic said he rolled his right ankle when he landed on a ball two minutes before tip-off.

    "It happens," he said with a shrug.

    Coach Ben Howland said he was notified of the injury just moments before the start of the game. But how does he justify playing 6-foot-10 center J'mison Morgan just two minutes while the Ducks were having their way on the glass? How does Dragovic get 34 minutes on a bad ankle? How does Lane, who was dealing with ankle issues too, get 23 minutes? Howland's choice of player rotation was just one of the things that seemed puzzling Saturday.

    Dragovic wore a protective boot following the game and added that X-rays would be taken Sunday morning. He said he would be sidelined until at least Wednesday. Dragovic had been questionable for Saturday's game after sustaining a left-shoulder injury while diving for a loose ball on Thursday. Yet, he went into the treatment room at 8 a.m. Saturday for a cortisone shot and was able to play through the pain.

    "I could shoot at least," Dragovic said.

    Like many times this season, shooting with accuracy was his problem.

    Late mistakes costly for UCLA

    February, 27, 2010
    PM PT
    Earlier this season, UCLA struggled to figure out Oregon's double-screen up. The mistakes cost the Bruins a win at Eugene, Ore.

    The same thing happened Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, only this time, UCLA knew it was coming. Oregon's offensive rotation repeatedly freed up sharp-shooting Tajuan Porter, who made long-range jumper after long-range jumper to answer a furious Bruins comeback. The 5-foot-7 guard torched UCLA's 2-3 zone for a game-high 29 points on seven 3-pointers in the 70-68 Bruins loss.

    "We knew what was coming, we just couldn't stop him," guard Malcolm Lee said.

    Oregon continued to set two screens high above the 3-point line and UCLA defenders went beneath them. Coach Ben Howland called the mistakes "mental things."

    With less than a minute remaining and the score tied at 65-65, the Ducks ran the same play for Porter off a timeout. Guard Jerime Anderson went beneath the screen and Porter made him pay by hitting his last -- but biggest -- 3-pointer of the afternoon.

    UCLA had stormed back from a 14-point deficit to tie it late in the second half but committed a pair of turnovers with chances to take the lead. Anderson turned the ball over on possessions before and after Porter's clutch shot.

    "We just couldn't get over the hump, you know," said Michael Roll, who hit six 3-pointers to move into third place on UCLA's all-time list and played career game No. 134 -- the most in the program's history.

    On the first mistake, Anderson tried to lead Tyler Honeycutt with a bounce pass, but was off point. On the second, he tossed an errant, no-look pass to Roll on the right wing in front of the UCLA bench.

    "They had the right intentions, they were just pushing too much," Roll said.

    Said Howland: "The one thing you want to do when you finally get the ball is be patient... I don't know if it's fatigue -- I have no answer for that."



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