Friday, February 22, 2008

UCLA vs. Oregon - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

No.6 ranked UCLA (23-3, 11-2) plays host to the Oregon Ducks in a Saturday afternoon contest at Pauley Pavilion. 

Oregon with an overall record of 15-11 and 6-8 in conference play are tied for eighth with Washington in the Pac-10 race.

With three starting seniors in the line-up, much was expected of the Ducks this season, instead the team has been a disappointment, suffering from inconsistent play and lack of direction.  Its doubtful at this point the team will receive an NCAA bid to the tournament.  It is rumored Oregon Coach Ernie Kent's job may be in jeopardy after this season's performance.

On Thursday night, after leading the Trojans by double-digits for most of the game, the Ducks squandered away their lead and eventually the contest, bowing to USC 81-75.

This season Oregon has five players averaging double-digits in scoring.  The team averages 77.7 points per game, second-best in the Pac-10, on 48.2% field goal shooting and 38.8% on three-pointers.

Forward Malik Hairston (6'6, 220, Sr) is scoring a team-best 16.4 points on 52.2% shooting.  Hairston arrived in Eugene four years ago heralded as one of the top prep players in the nation, however, his career hasn't turned out the way he, or others, had expected. 

Not quick enough on the perimeter nor big enough to dominate inside, Hairston was never able to find his niche in Oregon.   

Josh Shipp will be matched-up with Hairston in the game.  Shipp is struggling with his outside shooting, missing his last 19 three-point shots.  He'll look to end his drought on Saturday.

Senior forward/center Maarty Leunen (6'9, 220, Sr) is leading the team again in rebounds at 9.3 per game while averaging 15.0 points on 55.8% shooting.  He is a danger out to the three-point line, shooting 48.4% on three-pointers. 

An undersized center, Leunen has had to anchor the middle for most of his career in Oregon by himself without much help from other big bodies.

Leunen had a tough time matching up against Kevin Love in the first match-up between the two teams.  Love scored 26 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in UCLA's 80-75 win in Eugene earlier in January.

Athletic Bryce Taylor (6'4, 210, Sr) is averaging 13.7 points on 48.3 shooting.  The Ducks' best defender, Taylor usually takes on the opponent's best offensive wing.  Taylor has also been prolific from beyond the arc, hitting 40.5% of his shots.

Taylor can carry the team when he has it going, but can disappear for stretches of the game as well. Russell Westbrook and Taylor will likely lock horns all afternoon long.

Joevan Catron (6'6, 205, So), a wide-body forward, played minimal minutes against UCLA in the last contest after returning from a foot injury.  Catron is averaging 10.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.  He may spell Leunen at times to guard Love in the post.

UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely see most of his time against Catron in this game.  Mbah a Moute missed the first contest between the two teams in Eugene due to a concussion he had suffered earlier in the week.

Point-guard Tajuan Porter (5'6, 150, So) averages 13.5 points and 2.5 assists.  A three-point specialist who can shoot his team in or out of games depending on whether his shooting is on.  For the most part this season, Porter has been inconsistent with his main weapon, averaging just 34.1% on three-pointers despite taking the most attempts on the team.

Although not committing as many turnovers as he did at the start of the season, Porter still has a tendency to make bad decisions - not a good trait for a team's starting point guard.  Oregon definitely misses former Duck Aaron Brook's leadership and performance at the point.

The Oregon Ducks have the talent to play and win against any Pac-10 team on the road.  If the Bruins take this game too lightly or begin with low intensity and energy, Oregon could surprise them and make this a closer game than expected. 

There is a lot of pride on the line for this game, especially since a number of Oregon players, including Bryce Taylor, played high school ball in the Los Angeles area.

UCLA vs Oregon
Time: 12:30 PM PT
Place: Pauley Pavilion
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: OU Athletics)



At Feb 23, 2008, 12:42:00 AM, Anonymous Dexter Fishmore said...

I'm surprised by the suggestion that Shipp will be guarding Hairston this afternoon. Given the way Malik toasted us before leaving with an injury in the first game between these teams, I'd have thought that Westbrook would be assigned to shut him down.
On another note, I bid a fond farewell to Maarty Leunen. Throughout his career, he's been one of the most underrated players in the Pac-10, and it seems like he's always given us trouble. I respect his game and will not be sad to see him go.

At Feb 23, 2008, 12:47:00 AM, Anonymous Jake said...

I think Shipp would have problems guarding a quicker Bryce Taylor. I think Westie is too small for Hairston esp inside. Go Bruins!

At Feb 23, 2008, 2:38:00 AM, Anonymous bruinfan said...

This could be a close game...hopefully not...these Ducks have a lot of talent...

At Feb 23, 2008, 3:02:00 AM, Anonymous Aaron said...

I believe that you are incorrect. I'm pretty sure that Oregon will go four guard/wings with Leunen at the five and Hairston at the four. That would leave Luc guarding Hairston. At least that's what happened last year. Sometimes they'll put Catron in there and change things up however. If you remember the first game, Hairston was driving easily on Aboya.

At Feb 23, 2008, 3:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ducks by -7.

At Feb 23, 2008, 7:30:00 AM, Anonymous BruLue said...

aaron, guys were 0-2 on your predictions...
Shipp on Hairston....check
Catron started....check


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