Eugene – Oregon He is back on top of the Pac-12 with one game remaining.
Chris Duarte scored 23 points, Figueroa hit 18, and Eugene Omoroy and Will Richardson added 15 points for the Duck, who wiped out a nine-point deficit and closed 14-6 in the last round 4:06 to top UCLA, 82-74, Wednesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
Oregon (18-5, 13-4 Pac-12) won the ninth out of 10, with seven of those games coming in the last 14 days, and a half-match lead on UCLA for first place on the Pac-12 with one game-to-play.
Jules Bernard scored 23 points and scored four assists for the Bruins (17-7, 13-5), who will play USC on Saturday. The UO plays in Oregon on Sunday (5 PM, FS1).
The Oregon Junior five scored all his 37 points in the first half, but allowed Bernard to shoot a 7 of 8 from the field for 15 points, the main reason he had a 30-12 UCLA edge in the paintwork in the first half. Bruins hit 60% of the field and led 39-37 in the second half.
“He was definitely killing us,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He had 15 points in six corner kicks (in the first half). He would reach the edge whenever he wanted, it’s my body, but we didn’t slip our feet.”
But Bernard’s ducks closed down the stretch. Freshman did three pointers to give UCLA a 56-47 lead with 13:28 to go but didn’t score again.
Oregon, which had a season high of 60.8% (31 out of 51) from the field for the best shooting performance in a Pac-12 game since February 4, 2017 against Arizona (65.2%), eliminated a nine-point (60) -51) deficit with 11 : 16 to go on a 6-17 sprint with seven from Duarte.
“A lot of the teams wouldn’t have responded that way,” Altman said. “Very proud of the men. I thought Will Richardson just took over and put on some good plays, and finished some things in the basket. Our defense is really tight. “
Altman said UO players told him they wanted to switch to man-to-man defense and press more across the stretch of field, which speeded up UCLA to 12 turns in the second half compared to just two in the first.
“We had them at the pool and I went, guys, we didn’t get any stops. What do you want? You become responsible. We got there to get a stop.” “They wanted to go to the guy and switch everything and did a tremendous job with him, facing the position. Will and Eric (Williams Jr.) Sometimes, LJ, Chris, they all kept it out of (Cody) Riley’s hands so well.
“I thought it was big, big key. The team really bought what they wanted to do and really took it over.”
Oregon used his pressure on dead balls in the back court and his seat was as energetic as it had been throughout the season, which made passes into bounds and backcourt pressure even more difficult to handle and forced UCLA coach Mick Cronin to switch timeouts twice in those positions.
When Bruins got the ball to Riley in the second half, several ducks would sneak up and lock him up, force the ball or turn around and flip the feature in the paint to 28-12 UO in the second half.
“We realized that they were already attacking certain areas in the area,” said Omoroy. “As a group (we) decided to go to our defense man-to-man because we felt it was more effective and the coach let’s do it.”
Chandler Lawson came to give Figueroa a break with 10:50 to go and changed the top of the Oregon Press and forced UCLA to make a series of costly mistakes. Six Ducks forced Bruins rotation during the 4:46 period when Lawson came.
“We were a step behind it all night until Chandler Lawson gave us a big lift in our press,” Altman said. “His energy and I got some balls and that length made them wear some passes. When we got deflections and turns, it changed the pace of the game.”
Omoruyi intercepted the UCLA lane in the backcourt and went from coast to coast to get a basket to raise Oregon 64-62 with 6:04 to go. The ducks are not late again.
“We knew what they were looking at, and if something else stopped, what they were looking at,” Omoruyi said. “I ran out of reading, I got the ball and I finished it.”
Riley, who had 11 points, converted a three-point play to tie 68-68 with 4: 6 to go. Oregon then finished the game in Round 14-6 with contributions from each of the Big Four.
Figueroa knocked off the bench after a 4:06 break and Richardson foul. Omoruyi led down the right edge of the lane and directed himself into a running jump to lift UO 72-68.
“I knew they were cutting off the driving lanes,” he said. “I was able to control myself and turn around, the euro move.”
Duarte drilled a triple-pointer to give the Ducks their biggest lead in the game with 2:16 to play.
After two free throws from Tigger Campbell (eight assists), Richardson hit a jump into the lane, stopping Bernard Duarte and Richardson punching three to blow up the match.
UCLA was 55.4% (31 out of 56) from ground, the highest level Cronin had ever fired from the field in a loss in 18 seasons (401-190) as head coach.
“They were just a tougher team, on both sides,” Cronin said. “Transitions are clearly destroying you and they weren’t all against the pressure. We can’t even feed the post. We throw it out of bounds or hold it with one hand and it’s all a lack of durability.
“While the team wins against the top-tier teams, the tougher team will win. Whoever has the strength to get a good shot, take care of the ball, sit down and get a defensive stance, that’s who will win the game and we’re not there. And we have a really good team.” (If) you’re going to beat a team like this on the road on the big day he’s going to take a way the best defensive effort. “
The dramatic and intense victory gives Oregon the top spot in the conference after a glove of rescheduled matches, four of which are clinched four points or less.
Altman attributed this to the team’s mettle.
“Tonight, nine points, I think a lot of the teams were leaving,” he said. “It wasn’t going well for us. We didn’t have much energy. But big thanks to all the men, they turned it around.”