UCLA Rallies to Beat Oregon
There’s a pretty good race brewing in Pac-12 basketball. Three teams– #9 Arizona, #5 Oregon, and #10 UCLA– the AP Top 10. Arizona is in first place, as they often are; the Wildcats are 11-1 in the Pac-12 and 22-3 overall. Fifth ranked Oregon and #10 UCLA are close behind, and the Ducks and Bruins played each other on February 9th in Los Angeles. Back on December 28th, then #21 Oregon beat then #2 UCLA 89-87 in Eugene, handing the Bruins their first loss of the season. The Ducks lost to middle of the pack Colorado a couple of weeks ago for some reason, but were coming off a big 85-58 drubbing of Arizona on February 4th.
Oregon got off to a big start against UCLA, building a 19 point lead at one point in the first half, before going into the intermission with a 48-39 lead. But if we learned anything from the Super Bowl, no lead is safe and the second half of any game can be different than the first. A nine point lead isn’t an insurmountable obstacle for a good team anyway.
But then again, the Ducks extended the lead to 15, 62-47, on a three pointer by Dillon Brooks just 4:48 into the second half. After hitting this low point, the Bruins started to scratch their way back into it, and took a 72-70 lead on a three point basket by Aaron Holiday with 4:04 left. The Ducks closed to within one point, trailing 80-79 with 20 seconds left, but that was it. Holiday closed it out with two free throws to make the final 82-79.
Holiday and freshman Lonzo ball led the Bruins with 15 points each. Brooks and Tyler Dorsey led Oregon with 19 points each. Oregon is now 10-2 in the Pac-10, a game behind Arizona, and 21-4 overall, while UCLA (9-3, 21-4) is tied for 3rd with California (9-3, 18-6). A couple of other Pac-12 teams will probably make the NCAA tournament depending on how the last month of the season and the conference tournament goes. USC (8-4, 21-4) has consecutive games against Oregon at UCLA and at Arizona coming up this month, but has a decent shot to go to the Big Dance, and Utah (7-5, 16-8). The Utes have lost three of their last five, and will most likely need a stronger finish down the stretch including a good showing in the tournament to secure a bid.