Rushed Reactions: Oregon 76, UCLA 67Posted by AMurawa on January 19th, 2013
Andrew Murawa is an RTC correspondent and Pac-12 microsite writer. He filed this report after Saturday afternoon’s UCLA-Oregon game in Westwood.
Three Key Takeaways.
- The Battle for First Place. In the first Pac-12 match-up between ranked teams in almost four years, both teams brought undefeated conference records into Pauley Pavilion. After an up-and-down first half featuring crisp offense and a good flow, things bogged down significantly in the second half, with shooting percentages plummeting, whistles making a big comeback, and the action regularly interrupted. Still, with three and a half minutes left, we had a one-point game and everybody in the place was on the edge of their seats. From there Oregon hit the offensive glass, scored regularly in the middle and and knocked down free throws while UCLA ran poor offense and committed unforced turnovers, leading to a 14-6 Ducks run to end the game. With wins over both UCLA and Arizona in the bag, Oregon is now the team to beat in the Pac-12.
- Pressure. With two freshman guards leading the charge, you’re not supposed to be able to go on the road and knock off a Top 25 conference opponent. But make no mistake, without the play of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson, the Ducks leave Pauley with a loss. Dotson struggled shooting, making just two threes while missing his nine other attempts from the field, but he chipped in on the glass, did his job in the offense and helped harass Jordan Adams into an 0-of-6 performance. Meanwhile, Artis scored 14 points, pressed the issue on offense and repeatedly found open teammates for good looks on the way to six assists. Perhaps more importantly, he was a constant pestering force on defense, helping to contribute to UCLA’s most turnovers in almost two months.
- Rebounding. I’ve harped on it before, but UCLA’s rebounding is a serious Achilles’ Heel for the Bruins. The Wear twins, really UCLA’s only traditional bigs, combined for five rebounds in a total of 53 minutes today. While Kyle Anderson has stepped up as a double-double threat on a regular basis (he posted his sixth of the season today), UCLA was exposed in the paint as Oregon was able to grab better than 35% of their own misses while grabbing almost 80% of UCLA’s misses. In particular, Arsalan Kazemi grabbed 11 boards – four on the offensive glass. All told, the Ducks outscored UCLA 12-2 on second chance points and 38-24 in the paint, with senior center Tony Woods, specifically, repeatedly getting great deep position and scoring in low.
Star of the Game. Dominic Artis. The freshman point guard, once a UCLA commitment, came into Pauley Pavilion and tormented his former future school. He ran the up-tempo offense like a veteran, pestered Bruins’ ball-handlers and seemingly attempted to make a play on any pass that stayed up in the air too long. With two first-half threes, he set the tempo for the Ducks and is a big reason why they currently sit atop the Pac-12 standings.
Sights and Sounds. Lights Out. Just after the opening tip, the UCLA lights operator went to dim the house lights to settle into the big game action. But, perhaps over-excited by the big time Pac-12 game, he dimmed all of the lights, causing the refs to blow a quick whistle and reset the action. Artis paid no mind and quickly drilled his first three once the lighting issue was corrected.
Quotable: Dana Altman: “We depend heavily on our young players and got off to a slow start this year, but we are a totally different team than we were earlier in the year when we had two seniors (E.J. Singler and Arsalan Kazemi) out with injuries. We have our guys back and I’m very happy with how we are playing and we’re not even halfway through the conference season.”
Wildcard: Shabazz Muhammad. After leading all scorers in the first half with 10 points, Muhammad missed all four of his second half field goal attempts, including a leaner in the lane with just over two minutes left that would have pulled UCLA within one and could have given his team momentum for the stretch run. For a guy who has made a reputation for himself as a closer this season, this was a surprising turn of events.
What’s Next? UCLA plays the second half of perhaps the toughest one-two in the conference on Thursday when it travels to Arizona, hoping to begin a new winning streak. Meanwhile, Oregon will return home to host the Washington schools, with the match-up on Saturday with the Huskies of particular interest as it could be a battle between conference unbeatens, should both take care of their mid-week games.