After winning three straight games in Los Angeles (and accomplishing a mission of some sort), the Bruins took the road up to Oregon. The trip up north already poses some issues for Bruin players, but got tougher with word that Tony Parker would miss the game in Corvallis due to injury. Since their offseason coaching change, the Beavers are not the pushovers they have been in recent seasons. Despite a late run, UCLA fell to Oregon State, 66-55.
Parker's absence forced Steve Alford to go to his already thin bench to replace Tony's minutes, if not his presence on the court. DCBruins talked up Gyorgy Golomon in his game preview, but Thomas Welsh got the start, scoring 8 and pulling 5 rebounds in 31 minutes but unable to help out Kevon Looney in the post. Looney put up another double-double (10-11), but it was a long night with the backcourt trying to play hero, and failing badly.
After the first few minutes, the game started to turn into the sort of game the Bruins had hoped to have put behind them in Tuscaloosa or Boulder. Led by Gary Payton Jr's 15 points, the Beavers took a 29-19 halftime lead on 23% shooting by UCLA. After OSU opened the lead to 17 points with under 10 minutes left, the Bruin guards caught a hot streak, forced some turnovers and made up nearly the whole deficit, getting as close as 51-48 with 4:36 remaining before going gold and letting the Beavers regain their momentum.
While there were a few strong minutes in the 2nd half, by and large, the backcourt just wasn't able to cover the weakness inside. After a couple of solid games, Bryce Alford reverted to heroball mode, scoring 18 points on 5-15 shooting (4-13 from behind the arc). Norman Powell shot 5-16 for 13 points - and also booked a double-double with 10 boards - but Issac Hamilton has the roughest night of them all: 0 points on 0-10 shooting, 0 assists and 3 rebounds, with the late Bruin run coming after Issac actually tested the strength of Alford's green light and got benched - while Powell and Noah Allen took control of the offense and allowed Bryce to just shoot.
Tonight was a significant loss for the Bruins. Thanks to the early season struggles, the margin for error in the team's Tournament hopes were slim and due to the issues during the offseason in getting the roster filled and the bench solidified, there is little margin to cover for injuries. Neither the NCAA's selection committee nor our competition in the Pac-12 will feel sorry for us nor give any allowance for Parker's injury. With 8 losses this early in conference play, our chances at making the Tournament are slim and none (and slim is making a brisk stride to the exit).
UCLA's next game is Saturday afternoon against the Ducks in Eugene.