The UCLA Bruins (16-4, 5-2) head up to Eugene, Oregon to play on the ugliest basketball court in recorded history as they take on the struggling Oregon Ducks (14-5, 2-5). At the beginning of the season, this looked to be one of the bigger games in the Pac-12, as a hot Ducks squad was to face a Bruin team in transition. The way it looks now is that things are all quacked up for Oregon.
Location: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR
Tickets: Oregon State vs. UCLA basketball tickets
Tip-Off: 6:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Oregon -2.5
Preview: How can I put this lightly? Oregon. Is. Bad. And. They. Were. Not. Ready. For. Conference. Play.
Sorry for the stutter, but that point needs to be made. Oregon is getting beat down in the Pac-12 and it is because they were not ready for the strains of playing good, upper echelon basketball. This is why having a non-conference schedule full of cupcakes is always a bad idea. Always.
Oregon did not play a ranked team before Pac-12 play and it is now showing. Sure, they had a couple OT thrillers, but it was against teams they should have destroyed. They have lost five of seven games in the conference and now face the second best team in the Pac, the Bruins.
But now let us have some reality set in. This is a road game for the UCLA. The Bruins are 3-3 when playing away from Pauley Pavilion and that is not great. Oregon is still a talented team that can surprise the Bruins if they are not properly prepared. During UCLA’s loss at Utah, head coach Steve Alford was not prepared. He was embarrassed.
Still, you have to look ahead right? Learn from the past. Alford and his guys have to know they are going into some scary confines. It may not be like the old “Pit”, but the fans are the same. Remember the hell Kevin Love caught playing for UCLA up in Eugene? It was rough.
UCLA needs to continue to play their game. Do not let the crowd into their head. Execute the way they know how. Get the rebounding battle going in their favor early. In the last two games, big guys Tony Parker and David Wear got things going for UCLA (but of course, not in the same game, that would be too much to ask). If either one can get their mojo going, the Ducks are going to have a hard time.
Above all though, Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine need to give even more. They both can get the occasional offensive spark, but the need to get so hot that they burn the Ducks. They need to find what gets them going and ride that momentum all over that Jackson Pollock-esque basketball court. If UCLA can dominate early and take the crowd out of it, they this will be all Ducked Up for Oregon.
Prediction: UCLA 78 – Oregon 68