Following their loss at Washington State in the regular season finale for both teams, there were some who wondered what was wrong with UCLA. The answer was simple: Steve Alford’s team didn’t play well against the Cougars, and the combination of less than optimal execution and a lack of energy factored into that disappointing result.
That wasn’t a problem on Thursday night as the Bruins began their Pac-12 tournament run with an 82-63 victory over an Oregon squad that had won eight in a row.
Jordan Adams led five Bruins in double figures with 15 points and Kyle Anderson added 11 to go along with eight rebounds and six assists, and as a team UCLA shot 56.5% from the field and 8-for-16 from beyond the arc. Oregon certainly had issues defensively, something that had not been the case for much of their eight-game win streak, but this was more about UCLA’s level of execution than anything the Ducks failed to do.
The Ducks were able to keep pace offensively in the first half, trailing by just two points at the intermission. But while the Bruins were consistently able to find quality looks that wasn’t the case for Oregon, which shot 35.5% from the field and 4-for-17 from beyond the arc in the game’s final 20 minutes. Joseph Young made ten of his 18 shots and scored 29 points, but no other Duck scored more than eight and as a group they combined to shoot 14-for-37.
UCLA may not have finished its regular season on the best note but this is still a talented group that can make some noise. The keys will be the defense and the play of the front court, with both David (11 points, four rebounds) and Travis Wear (14 points, five rebounds) performing well against Oregon. Friday’s matchup (Stanford or Arizona State) will provide more resistance from a size standpoint, but if they can perform well UCLA is more than capable of advancing.