After another loss at Oregon State last night, the UCLA Bruins are now heading to Matthew Knight Arena to take on the Oregon Ducks at 7:15 tomorrow night. The Ducks are 2-4 in conference play, and they are coming off a road split of the Arizona schools and a loss against Southern Cal.
While it remains to be seen if ASU can really pull off the season they seem to be setting themselves up for, the Ducks played well against them last Thursday, beating them 76-72, which is probably their biggest win todate. While they ended up losing to Arizona, it was only by seven points and Oregon’s RPI is 65 spots lower than Arizona’s. The Ducks actually led late in the game but couldn’t play a full 40 minutes.
Against Southern Cal, the Ducks actually led with less than three minutes to go, but couldn’t close out yet again and ended up losing 75-70. This actually ended a 14-game losing streak for the Trojans in this match up.
Payton Pritchard is the Ducks’ top scorer, averaging just over 15 points per game. He can be up and down but has really stepped up in the last few games. Graduate transfers Elijah Brown and MiKyle McIntosh are also a veteran duo that can do some damage, racking up 75 points combined in their Arizona trip. Troy Brown and Paul White are both averaging in the double digits in scoring, and both average over 80% from the foul line.
Head coach Dana Altman has been harping on ball movement, defensive communication and toughness on the boards, which seems to be paying off. They went into the Arizona road trip 1-2 in Pac 12 play, and managed to beat the Sun Devils and hang with the Wildcats. However, they seem to be suffering from the same disease as UCLA—the inability to close out a game.
What’s going to be really scary about Oregon is their free throw shooting. While UCLA’s starting lineup is averaging 69.4% and coming at #225 on the list of all D1 basketball schools, Oregon is #10 with a 78.1% average. This is probably going to kill us. The Ducks can also play defense. They average 5.3 blocked shots per game with 96 total blocked shots on the season (going into Thursday night), and Kenny Wooten is ranked #17 in the country for blocked shots by an individual.
UCLA is going to need to have a perfect game in order to come out on top tonight. After some embarrassing losses, if the Bruins want to make the tournament, they are going to have to tighten up big time on offense, shore up the free throws, and play solid defense.