The Oregon Ducks (18-5, 13-4) outlasted the UCLA Bruins (17-7, 13-5) at Matt Knight Arena in an 82-to-74 victory that put the Ducks one game away from winning another PAC-12 regular season title.
EUGENE, OREGON - Oregon and UCLA played a much-anticipated game of basketball that finished with Oregon on top thanks to a handful of veteran plays in the final minutes of the contest. Three seniors in particular—Chris Duarte, LJ Figueroa, and Eugene Omoruyi—helped the Ducks win a game that was originally schedule for January 28 before it was postponed for COVID protocol involving a referee.
Duarte scored a team-high 23 points, which included 8 of 10 successful free throw attempts that he took during the course of the game. Oregon’s free throw discrepancy is one reason why they were able to pull off the crucial victory; Ducks went 12-of-16, Bruins 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.
Figueroa continues to rapidly improve as a playmaker and scored 18 points by going 8-of-11 from the floor. He also added four steals and contributed to a tenacious performance from the Duck defense. This was the senior’s sixth consecutive game with more than 12 points.
Omoruyi struggled during a stretch in the second half, committing three turnovers that delayed Oregon’s comeback, but overall had another outstanding performance. Eugene (not OF Eugene, contrary to Bill Walton’s insistence) tallied 15 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, a block and a steal against one of the best teams in the conference.
Dana Altman shows no sign of limiting the minutes from his top three players, as Duarte, Figueroa and Omoruyi each played 35, 33, and 32 minutes, respectively. Oregon’s other two starters, Will Richardson (15 points) and Eric Williams Jr. (8 points, 8 rebounds), had promising performances that bode well for the upcoming tourneys.
It was a very competitive contest for most of the game, and the Ducks ended the first half trailing by two points after Duarte was able to cut the lead to 39-37 with a solid jumper. Jules Bernard of the Bruins found a lot of success against the Duck D, scoring 15 of his 23 points in the first half.
Things appeared to be slipping away from the Ducks when Bernard nailed a triple with 13:28 left on the clock. That score capped off a seven-point run from the Bruins that put them up 56 to 47. However, Oregon responded by going on a 19-to-6 run, fueled by an and-one from Chandler Lawson and punctuated by a fastbreak dunk from Omoruyi that gave the Ducks the lead for good.
Oregon finished the game shooting 60.8 percent from the floor and connecting on 8 of their 17 shots from downtown. The Duck starters scored all but three of their total points scored. Oregon takes on Oregon State in Corvallis this Sunday in a game that will decide the PAC-12 Regular Season title.
NEXT UP: @ Oregon State
Sunday, 5 PM, FS1 - Corvallis, Oregon