Saturday, January 06, 2007

UCLA Falls From Unbeaten, Lose to Oregon

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Aaron Brooks scored 25 points including the game-winner with only thirteen seconds left in the game to lead Oregon to an upset win over top-ranked UCLA, 68-66, at McArthur Court in Eugene.

"I never thought I'd feel like this again in my entire career here," junior Arron Afflalo said. "I truly thought this team couldn't be beat. The way we played and the type of heart we play with, and the type of leadership we have on this team -- I wouldn't say we're invincible but I didn't think we could be beat.

"This is probably my worst loss ever."

Considering the Bruins have gone 27-2 since their last regular season loss, the hyperbole of Afflalo's comments could be excused, if not understood.

UCLA (14-1, 3-1) jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead to start the game but then Oregon switched to a match-up zone, and once again, the Bruins struggled scoring against it.

With Arron Afflalo missing all five of his shot-attempts in the first-half, the Bruins played sluggishly and appeared a step slower than the Ducks.  UCLA blew nine lay-ups on their way to just 36.4% field-goal shooting in the first-half.

The Bruins also fumbled away easy baskets underneath with the ball twice slipping out of Lorenzo Mata's hands as he went up for a dunk.  UCLA had come into the game leading the Pac-10 in least turnovers committed with 12.9 turnovers a game but finished with 17 against Oregon.

Point-guard Darren Collison had his second consecutive sub-par game on this road trip scoring only one point while going 0-4 in the first-half.  In addition, both he and Afflalo struggled defensively containing the lightning quick Brooks.

The senior Oregon point-guard was the star for the Ducks shooting 9-16 from the field with many of them coming off isolation plays on the wing in which he easily blew by his defender.

Brooks led a hot-shooting Ducks team to 70% field-goals in the first-half.   Moreover, Oregon did not miss a shot until ten minutes into the game when Bryce Taylor missed a jumper, and by then, the Ducks had pulled out to a 20-14 lead.

Despite their sloppy play and bad shooting, the Bruins stayed within reach of the Ducks for most of the half on the strength of their rebounding which gave them numerous extra chances at the basket.  UCLA had thirteen more shot attempts (33 vs. 20) than Oregon at the half.

Still, the Ducks went into intermission with a 40-30 lead, the momentum of the game, and raucous crowd on their side

UCLA came out of at the start of the half scoring eight straight points to pull within two, but then Brooks hit a jumper and Maarty Leunen converted on a three-point play to stop the Bruin run.

The Bruins executed better in the second half shooting 50% but each time they appeared ready to overtake the Ducks, they either committed a turnover or missed key free throws.

After shooting above 75% over the past few games, the Bruins resorted back to poor shooting from the stripe converting only 12-18 for 66.7% while the Ducks were dead-eye from the line making 19-21 for 90.5%

Did we report the Bruins lost by only two points?

UCLA made one final run when Arron Afflalo hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to just three with 2:49 remaining.  After Bryce Taylor missed a jumper, Darren Collison made a three-point shot to tie the game with 22 seconds remaining. 

But then Aaron Brooks came to the rescue again scurrying quickly down the court and made an open 12-footer from the baseline to the put the Ducks back ahead 68-66 with 13 seconds. 

The Bruins had one last shot to tie or win the game. 

After Oregon called time-out on Brook's basket, UCLA inbounded the ball into Collison who penetrated into the paint, but instead of shooting an open 15 footer at the elbow, he passed the ball to Josh Shipp who was forced to take a tough three-pointer which he missed with time expiring. 

"The last play of the game was really my fault. I wanted to go for the win," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "I thought we would be able to penetrate and kick out for a 3, and it wasn't there. We were really tentative and did not get a good shot at the end of the game."

Shipp finished with 14 points and played well on both ends of the court including getting 4 steals.  On a couple of instances, Shipp over dribbled into the paint resulting in a turnover and charge late in the game, but the offense was sputtering and he was trying to make something happen for the team.

Afflalo finished with 14 points  - all in the second-half, including 4 three-pointers which almost brought the Bruins back.

One bright spot for UCLA was the play of freshman Russell Westbrook who was the most effective Bruin on the floor.  Both times he was inserted into the game, he provided a spark for the team.  He finished with 10 points on 3-5 shooting in just 13 minutes.  Westbrook did a good job defensively and seemed to be effective guarding Aaron Brooks when he had the chance. 

After his impressive game in Eugene, it would not be surprising to find Westbrook getting more chances in the near future. 

UCLA travels back home with a 1-1 road trip record.  They have a week before their next game on Saturday against USC to work out some kinks including more effectively attacking a zone defense which they will undoubtedly see more of until they show they can beat it.

(photo credit: AP)



At Jan 7, 2007, 1:32:00 PM, Anonymous JB said...

The last loss that I attended was last year against U$C. We didn't lose again until the finals.
I'm not saying this will happen again with the Oregon loss. However, I do think things like this, at this point in the season, can work out for the good.
I don't really care whether we are ranked 1st in the nation or not. I care about us getting back to the final four. Losing actually takes some of the pressure off and let's them just work on improving. And this wasn't a particularly "bad" loss. Losing to number 14 Oregon, in the pit, by 2 points, in a game that was far from our best is actually a good sign for things to come.
This game against our rivals will be very interesting. You have to give it to them, after that 46 point victory over OSU on the road. Beating them should not be a cake-walk, so if we can work them over it will be big. If we just avoid what would be a MUCH MORE disappointing loss than the Oregon game was, would be more than good enough.
Beat $C!

At Jan 8, 2007, 3:57:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Thank u Ernie Kent because we needed a wake up call! Our team came out flat again, but your guys played some gr8 defense and were lights out on offense the first half. That kid Brooks can play!
We r definitely not loing to SC.
Looking forward to watching the rest of this years games in the Pac-10!!

At Jan 8, 2007, 5:56:00 AM, Anonymous BillSouthBay said...

I have been uneasy about the Bruins since the midway point of the 14-0 streak. As good as BH is, the question is, where do they go from here, except down? This loss will provide incentive for the team to pay better attention to the coaches, and traverse through the PAC-10 with the best chance possible to win the conference championship and gain a #1 seed. That is all that counts now anyway.


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