UCLA men’s basketball (10-6, 3-0 Pac-12) erased a 17-point second half deficit en route to an 87-84 overtime victory over Oregon (9-6, 0-2) in Eugene, Oregon, on Thursday night. With the win, the Bruins clinched their first 3-0 start to conference play since the 2012-2013 season – something they never did under former coach Steve Alford.
They did it in a way no Pac- 12 team has ever done. Oregon Live’s James Crepea describes it from the Oregon point of view:
Oregon turned a commanding performance for over 30 minutes into the most devastating collapse in Pac-12 history.
The Ducks blew a nine-point lead with 51 seconds left and UCLA capped off an incredible comeback in overtime, tying for the sixth-largest deficit overcome in the final minute in Division I history.
What a comeback it was. Ben Bolch of the LA Times describes the last play of regulation:
The wildest sequence started with 2.6 seconds left in regulation and the Bruins trailing by three points. Hands made one free throw and intentionally missed the second, throwing the ball off the back of the rim.
“I’m surprised I did it that good,” said Hands, who had never practiced missing a free throw intentionally. “That was the best miss of my life.”
Smith, who was positioned outside the three-point arc, raced toward the basket and collected the loose ball, laying it in to tie the score at 80-80 with seven-tenths of a second left while getting fouled by Oregon’s Payton Pritchard.
“I just ran in there and I saw two guys collapse on Moses,” Smith said. “He was reaching out for the ball, tipped it and it dropped right in front of me.”
As Jaylen Hands said:
Jaylen Hands: "We just believed we could do something crazy. I’m pretty sure none of us envisioned it to happen like that, but we just kept going play by play and made it happen."— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) January 11, 2019
The Bruins overcame an ugly first half as described by Smith in the Daily Bruin:
The Bruins will not want to rewatch the tape of Thursday night’s first half in Eugene. . . .
Oregon had four different players score at least seven points in the first 20 minutes. The Ducks also converted the Bruins’ 14 turnovers into 19 points compared to just the six points UCLA was able to score off of the Ducks’ eight turnovers.
But UCLA scored the last seven in overtime to win it. Prince Ali was the leading scorer and the Associated Press describes the overtime:
“That was highway robbery, baby,” a beaming Ali said after the Bruins erupted for 39 points in 12 minutes for a road win.
Ali had 22 points, including four in overtime, and UCLA scored the final seven points to outlast Oregon 87-84 on Thursday night.
Jaylen Hands added 16 points and hit the go-ahead jumper with 47 seconds left for the Bruins (10-6, 3-0), who won in Eugene for the first time in five years. Moses Brown, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, made one of two free throws for the final point.
Was it pretty or good basketball? No. Was it fun to watch? Yes. The Bruins never gave up and made a remarkable and improbable comeback. Interim Coach Murry Bartow gets the last word:
Well, I just love the spirit of this team right now. We played pretty well against Stanford, scoring 92, and we played pretty well against Cal, scoring 98. Tonight, it was ugly in a lot of ways. But again, I think it shows the spirit of these guys. It shows the spirit about them. Again, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and when you are down 14 with four minutes to play on the road, you can pack it in pretty quickly and easily. They just kept digging in.
Go Bruins! Beat the Beavers!