Everything was right on track for another signature Altman win later in the season.
A raucous Matthew Knight Arena roared its approval as the Ducks jumped ahead 8-0 on the seventh ranked Bruins, and even after UCLA battled back to claim the lead, it was the Ducks who were ahead at the half 33-30.
To start the second half, Oregon had possession and Will Richardson had a wide open 3.
It missed. And that was the story of the second half, missed opportunities.
Multiple times Oregon could have cushioned it's lead early in the second half. They didn't. Multiple times after UCLA went ahead the Ducks could have stayed within striking range without empty offensive possessions. It didn't happen.
The Bruins went up by as many as 18 and by the time Oregon put together a final flurry, it was too late. UCLA walked away with a 70-63 victory and the season sweep.
I said a couple weeks ago that of the two big matchups with Arizona and UCLA, Oregon had to win at least one to secure an NCAA Tournament spot. They won neither.
Barring a miraculous Pac 12 Tournament victory, the Ducks will miss out on March Madness for the second straight year. This coming after Oregon advanced to the Sweet Sixteen or farther in each of their last four tournament appearances.
So what's the issue these last couple seasons? Certainly, Oregon has had the talent on paper, but it just hasn't translated into success on the court.
One of the most notable issues has been the poor starts to the season. The Ducks have been able to put together solid conference runs in 2022 and 2023, but had already dug themselves such a deep holes in November and December that it hasn't been enough.
Suffice to say, the Ducks have plenty of help incoming with one of the top recruiting classes in the nation set to debut in 2024.
But again, that's all on paper. It'll be tough for web-footed fans to truly believe in men's hoops until the prove it on the hardwood.