I guess the one thing we can take from this game is that it is the last time we'll ever lose at Mac Court. Oregon will leave the old, rickety gym after the year and move to a beautiful new arena, but if the Bruins find themselves in the paint at the new arena as rarely as they were in the paint tonight, they will lose there too. UCLA got off to a blazing start, then tapered off the rest of the way in a complete team effort loss to Oregon, 71-66, in overtime. Here's your box score.
The Bruins inability to penetrate on the offensive end is something few teams could match. 33 of the Bruins' 64 field goal attempts came from behind the arc. If you didn't know any better, you would think that the three point line was the 38th Parallel because UCLA just would not cross it. The Oregon zone, once it turned into more of a match-up zone after UCLA's hot start, stifled the Bruins and UCLA seemed content to keep trying what wasn't working. In a radical change from the rest of the season, the UCLA offense let down the defense, although the defense wasn't the greatest.Blame for this loss can go all the way around and when that is the case, it starts with the head coach. After putting together two very solid game plans versus the Washington schools last week, CBH and his staff were unable to adjust once Oregon adjusted to what was so effective for the Bruins early on. When Oregon switched their zone to more of a match-up zone than a straight 2-3 zone, the offense didn't change. Well, the Bruins stopped scoring, but the plays and system was exactly as it was early on. UCLA also got killed on the boards and despite not having to worry about the same match-up problems that plague a team play man-to-man, CBH never tried a big lineup with Honeycutt in the backcourt and three 6'8'' guys in the front court.
Moving past the coaching staff, the players didn't get it done either. Dragovic had himself 19 points, but needed 17 shots to get it done and missed a key free throw late while also struggling defensively. Those who continue to harp on ND and allocate 75% of their blame to him though are nothing more than lazy because he was not alone in having a poor game and this isn't the first time where people single him out for complete team losses. Just about everybody needs to feel the heat for this loss and a few others this year. Tonight, ND didn't have the poorest of games either. Malcolm Lee had himself the worst game he's had in a UCLA uniform. The effort was there, as evidenced by a couple late rebounds, but it was one of those nights where nothing goes right for a player. Unfortunately for UCLA, those nights that everyone has from time to time cannot happen to any key Bruins and still allow the team to win because they're just not good enough.
As is not a surprise, free throw shooting accounted for the difference in this ballgame. Oregon got to the line more times than UCLA and despite not hitting at an astounding percentage, did far better than the Bruins. The Ducks were 15-21 from the stripe, while the Bruins managed to shoot just 6-11 despite a 3-3 effort from the freshman, Tyler Honeycutt, who also had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Frankly, this team isn't good enough to miss free throws and have a key player like Lee have an off night. That's what happened tonight and UCLA still had their chance. This is just another in a ever growing list of UCLA losses that has the team and its fans wondering "what if." In reality though, what it comes down to is "what if this team were better" because this team is just not that good and at the heart of it all, that's what it comes down to. That doesn't mean they can't be better than they've been though.