The ugly victory over Oregon was a win by a collection of individual players exerting their wills. Even the winning shot was not a play but really an individual taking advantage of an opportunity. Let's start with the dramatic last second shot.
Travis Wear didn't really have time to think.
"It fell in my hands and I knew we only had a few seconds left so I put it up," he said.
His putback with 5.3 seconds to go gave UCLA a 70-68 victory over slumping Oregon on Thursday night.
PAC 12 MVP candidate Kyle Anderson had one of his worst games as a Bruin but still was a key to the victory:
Oregon pressured Kyle Anderson all night, and it resulted in the UCLA point guard tying a season-low in points. What the Ducks couldn't do was limit his contributions elsewhere.
Anderson hit just one field goal in the Bruins' 70-68 road win, but made several key plays late in a game that see-sawed wildly for 40 minutes. With under a minute left, the sophomore cut down the right side of the lane, drawing an extra defender before dishing the ball to a wide-open Jordan Adams. . . .
With 5.3 seconds left, Oregon point guard Johnathan Loyd - playing with a face mask to protect a broken nose - streaked down the length of the court. As the 5-foot-8 senior tossed up a shot attempt, Anderson stretched out for a game-clinching block.
The 6-foot-9 Anderson finished with six points, 10 assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block, but was forced into a career-high nine turnovers.
This was supposed to be a battle of two high powered offenses but really it was an ugly game where UCLA's superior talent won out.
The Bruins shot just 39.1 percent from the floor in the first half, and trailed Oregon 36-32 at the intermission. The Ducks connected on 41.4 percent of their field goal attempts in the frame.
UCLA picked it up in the second half, hitting an even 50 percent of its shots from the floor, but went 1-of-6 from 3-point range. Oregon's shooting accuracy dropped to 37.5 percent in the second period. The Ducks did connect on all 12 free-throw attempts in the half.
UCLA had the edge in points in the paint, 30-18, and in fast break points, 11-7. Oregon won the battle in bench points, 36-11.
UCLA season leading scorer Jordan Adams was a key to the win. Adams looked like the player of last season as Oregon focused on Anderson. (Adams also discussed how we would have beat Oregon in the PAC 12 tournament final if he would have played.)
His 19 points were big. His defensive effort was even bigger. Even when he lost the ball, it worked out well for the Bruins. . . .
It came to him in the second half. Adams scored eight consecutive points to break a 49-49 tie.
What Adams did when Oregon had the ball was just as vital. He had two steals during his scoring spree, part of a smothering defensive effort. UCLA held Oregon 18 points below its season average. The Ducks shot 39.6%.
He cut to the basket, scored and was fouled. His free throw tied the score, 68-68, with 56 seconds left. It was still tied when the Bruins' Kyle Anderson missed a jumper. Adams swooped in and tied up Oregon's Richard Amardi. The possession arrow gave UCLA the ball, setting up the game-winning basket.
"Those ‘effort' plays won us the game," Alford said.
Powell helped key UCLA's success in the second half, scoring 14 of his 17 points after halftime. Adams finished with 14 of his team-leading 19 points in the second half.
Credit goes to three of the big four for never giving up and finding a way to win: Anderson with the big plays on a bad night for him, Adams never giving up and Norman showing why he is an elite PAC 12 player. Norman as the unsung defensive leader gets the last word.
"It came down to our toughness," Powell said. "We knew that we couldn't give in."
We beat a bad team thanks to some great individual efforts.