While the first half on Sunday was ugly for UCLA Bruins fans, it provided the writers with license to act like creative writers as opposed to news reporters. The AP led their story with:
UCLA was in a giving mood and Oregon was only too happy to be on the receiving end.
The 12th-ranked Ducks took advantage of a season-worst 23 turnovers by the Bruins to score 34 points and went on to a 96-75 victory Sunday, the largest winning margin for Oregon in the series since 2003.
The LA Times’ Ben Bolch led off his story with a tale of six men, as in how the Bruins had six men on the court that led to a technical foul. Then, Bolch did his effort to catalog the mistakes creatively:
UCLA played in the game’s early going as if it was compiling a manual on all the wrong ways to counteract a full-court press.
Guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. stepped through a double team and threw the ball out of bounds. Guard Chris Smith had a lazy pass stolen and compounded his mistake by committing a foul on the resulting layup. Jaquez threw what should have been a simple inbounds pass in the backcourt that skipped past David Singleton out of bounds.
A little over 14 minutes into the first half, UCLA’s 14 turnovers matched its point total. The Bruins (10-10 overall, 3-4 Pac-12 Conference) were already down by 23 points and any thoughts of extending their two-game winning streak were essentially over. . . .
The Bruins eventually finished with a season-high 23 turnovers while also giving up a season high for points. It didn’t help that they were missing their primary ballhandler for most of the game after Campbell suffered a left hip injury only 15 seconds after his team earned the technical foul for having one player too many on the court.
Yep, it was ugly. Coach Cronin spoke about on Oregon’s press:
We let it affect us. We played sideways. When you play sideways and telegraph your passes, they don’t have to protect the rim so they just come harder and harder. We really dedicated most of our practice to it, which is the most disappointing thing. It’s a little different, practice and then put people in the stands. We looked like a really young and inexperienced team out there, which is disappointing. I know we are, but I was hoping we were past all that.”
The Daily Bruin’s Sam Connon focused on the facts and a bit of the positive while also tying in what was foremost on every basketball fan’s mind:
[Jalen] Hill – who shared a jersey number in common with [Kobe] Bryant – opened the game by hitting his first three shots and finished 5-of-7 from the field. In a game that featured a season-high 23 UCLA turnovers, Hill managed to avoid giving the ball away for his first 24 minutes on the court while co-leading the Bruins with two steals.
The Bruins did manage to protect the ball for the first four-plus minutes of the game, however, building an early 9-7 lead without turning the ball over once. But after 10 UCLA turnovers over the course of five minutes, Oregon scored 14 unanswered to spark an eventual 30-5 run.
Despite shooting above 50% from the field, 40% from 3 and 80% from the free throw line for the first time all season, the Bruins were unable to dig themselves out of the hole. . .
Oregon’s 57.1% field goal percentage in the game marked the third time UCLA allowed its opponent to shoot over 55% from the field, and the Bruins now fall to 0-6 when their opponents shoot 47% or better.
The Bruins actually were good against the Oregon Ducks on offense once they got the ball across half court. This game showed a couple things. UCLA needs to win on defense. The set offense can work, even if it needs to be relatively slow, careful, and methodical. Coach Cronin said:
All we talked about was controlling the tempo of the game with our offense by taking care of the ball. We really thought we could get any shot we wanted against them in the half court, and we did really.
Coach Cronin gets the last word, not to discuss the disastrous game, but on Kobe Bryant:
I knew him when he was younger. I was the coach in Sonny’s game [Sonny Vacarro]. I’m sure that Sonny is devastated. I was the coach in Magic Johnson’s Roundball Classic in Palace Hills, and I coached him in that event. His last high school game and mine. . . . Every day is not promised. Tomorrow is not promised. I think the whole basketball world is shook up right now and doesn’t know what to say, including them [Oregon]. For the L.A. basketball community, especially, it’s just mind-boggling. I have a 13-year old daughter too, and it’s just unbelievable.