In the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament, the Oregon Ducks(23-9, 10-8) ran out of gas in the second half against the UCLA Bruins(24-8, 12-6).
Despite only trailing 37-35 at the half, the Ducks were ran out of the gym by UCLA’s offensive precision. UCLA went on an 18-4 run and scored points on their first eight possessions of half two. After the final whistle blew, Oregon lost 82-63.
The Ducks seemed to have no defensive energy or sense of urgency in the second half. But to be fair, after being forced to win eight straight games just to be in a position to make the NCAA tournament, they were due for a let down.
It wasn’t just one Bruin who terrorized the Ducks, the entire team went on a collective hot streak. The Bruins shot 57 percent from the field, five Bruins reached double-figures and F Norman Powell fell just short, scoring nine points.
PG Kyle Anderson started out slow, but after a devastating four possession stretch, seized complete control of tempo. Anderson drove to the basket and made a double clutch and-one while hovering in the air, made his patented “force contact and rise above for a three-footer,” play, had a steal which ignited a UCLA fast break that led to a successful alley-oop and delivered a thunderous and-one dunk over Oregon F Richard Amardi. In fact, the Ducks were up 32-28 before Anderson took over.
Anderson finished with a quintessential Kyle Anderson stat line: 11 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks.
Interestingly, UCLA pulled off the resounding victory despite a no-show from PG Bryce Alford, who dropped 31 on the Ducks at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Alford finished with just four points this time around.
Similarly to when the Ducks couldn’t attain their second Pac-12 victory in the middle of the season, G Joseph Young was the only efficient Oregon player against UCLA. Young finished the game with 29 points on 10-18 shooting. The Oregon guard was scorching all night, making a number of ill-advised three-pointers and at one point, somehow finagling his way through all five UCLA defenders for a lay-up.
However, the rest of the Ducks never found any semblance of a rhythm. The rest of Oregon starters only made five field goal attempts the entire game and shot 33 percent for the floor. Also, normally sharp shooting Jason Calliste didn’t make a single three-pointer for the first time in seven games and finished with five points. Oregon shot just south of 44 percent from the field for the game.
Before the Pac-12 tournament began, all eyes were on Dominic Artis, who suffered a lengthy cold-spell. After Artis had one of his best games of the season against Oregon State, Ducks fans might need to start worrying about Damyean Dotson.
Since his brush with the law, Dotson has only made more than two field goal attempts in one of six games. After playing an integral role in Oregon’s Sweet 16 run last season, Dotson might need a few days to revitalize mentally and physically for the Ducks postseason…wherever Oregon may land.
Before the UCLA game, the Ducks had eight straight victories, a 25th ranked RPI and the 23rd ranked strength of schedule. All of these numbers seem NCAA Tournament worthy. The Ducks recent turnaround should also prove beneficial as the selection committee weighs recent performance more heavily than early season performance(Though this means the Ducks undefeated preseason will likely be be marginalized.) But unlike last year, the Ducks reside in a distinguished conference. According to CBSSports.com bracketologist Jerry Palm, the Pac-12 is projected to receive the second most NCAA tournament bids(6) of any conference in the nation.
However, last year the Ducks were thought to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament once they made it to the finals of the Pac-12 tournament. After winning the tournament, they winded up with just a 12 seed, insinuating that they wouldn’t have made “The Big Dance” had they not received an automatic bid.
After the dust is settled in all conference tournaments throughout the USA, Oregon hoops will learn its fate Sunday afternoon.