This is how a team should defend their home court in an important conference matchup. The Oregon Ducks were able to take down the UCLA Bruins 75-68 behind a career-high 26 points from forward E.J. Singler. He missed all four of his three-pointers, but he added five rebounds and went 16-17 (!) from the free throw line. Four players on the Bruins committed four fouls or more, and one of them was star center Joshua Smith. Based on his performance yesterday, a fan watching the game wouldn’t think of Smith as a star player. He committed four turnovers and was invisible in a game with future ramifications in the conference. The Bruins lost the lead for the first time with 7:47 left and were down 52-50 after two crucial three-pointers from senior guard Garrett Sim.
Travis Wear faired out better than Smith and had 17 points and 7 rebounds (+19 EFF) in 35 minutes. Lazeric Jones was on the floor for longer than any other player in the game, but it took him 16 shots to tally 14 points (+7 EFF).
Sim had an effective field goal percentage of 57.7% and had 16 points. On the bench, Tyrone Nared made up for an 0-3 performance with eight rebounds. Star point guard Devoe Joseph had an interesting stat line, because he missed all five of his two-point attempts and went 3-6 from beyond the arc. His eFG% was a below-average 40.9%, and it showed in his +4 EFF score.
Although the Bruins outshot the Ducks (using eFG%) 47.5% to 41.2%, free throws were the difference. UCLA connected on under half of their 21 free throw attempts, while the Ducks were an outstanding 28-32; a gap of 18 points. Oregon averaged 1.11 points per possession overall (.82 per field goal), and the Bruins averaged 1.02 points per trip and .95 points per shot.
Fouls accounted for a gap of .22 points per play between these two teams, which is about 15 points in a slow-paced game with approximately 67 possessions from each team. The Ducks would have lost by nine had both teams taken- and made- the same number of free throws. Fouls were the difference in this contest, and the Bruins will be kicking themselves over this loss.
For the first time since 2007, the Oregon Ducks have won four conference games in a row. Yes, that was back when Aaron Brooks was the team’s star player and when they were the No. 16 team. Coincidentally, the Ducks defeated the No. 1 Bruins to start their last streak. The Ducks are now 2-4 in games in which they are trailing at the half, and they were down by 13 heading into the second period. They scored an astounding 51 points in the second half.
Dana Altman’s squad is steadily improving this season, and the Oregon Ducks men’s team is for real. They have held off late charges, and they have now come back against a talented, under-achieving game after a double-digit deficit to being the half. The Ducks are armed and dangerous, and the might even be the second best team in the conference to only California. That may be premature at this point, but they did beat the consensus No. 2 Pac-12 team (Stanford) by double-digits in their last meeting.
Game MVP: E.J. Singler
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