UCLA rallies, tops Oregon in OT 87-84
“That was highway robbery, baby,” a beaming Ali said after the Bruins erupted for 39 points in 12 minutes for a road win.
Ali had 22 points, including four in overtime, and UCLA scored the final seven points to outlast Oregon 87-84 on Thursday night.
Jaylen Hands added 16 points and hit the go-ahead jumper with 47 seconds left for the Bruins (10-6, 3-0), who won in Eugene for the first time in five years. Moses Brown, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, made one of two free throws for the final point.
“It’s one of the more crazy ones,” said interim coach Murry Bartow, who is 3-0 since replacing Steve Alford as UCLA’s coach. “We didn’t score the ball very easily tonight, but then we made a great run to get the thing to overtime.
“My head’s spinning right now, so I’m not even sure what I said (in the locker room). I’m just really proud of them.”
Oregon coach Dana Altman didn’t have an explanation, either.
“There’s no easy way to spin that one,” Altman said, “that’s a gut punch. . I wish I could help them more, I wish I could do a better job, but obviously that hurts them. They’re crushed. They played really hard and I feel really bad for them because they played really hard.”
UCLA trailed by 17 in the second half and was down 76-68 with 45 seconds to go in regulation when Hands made a 3-pointer and a 3-point play to cut the deficit to two. The three free throws came after Ali stole the ball from Payton Pritchard and Ehab Amin, who had five steals, fouled Hands beyond the arc.
“You can’t do that,” Altman said. You’ve got to make them hit a tough shot and Hands hit all his free throws there, so that really was a big play.”
The Bruins outscored Oregon 12-4 to finish regulation at 80-80.
Chris Smith tied the score with 0.7 seconds left with a rebound basket off Hands’ intentional miss from the foul line, but Smith missed his free throw and the Ducks rebounded to force overtime.
“We had our best two offensive rebounders on the lane in Jalen Hill and Moses,” Bartow said, “and fortunately they tipped it and here comes Chris Smith. He made a big play.”
With an 80-77 lead and 3.3 seconds left in regulation, Altman opted to foul Hands in the back court rather than risk a tying 3-point attempt. Smith’s rebound putback turned that strategy on its head for the Ducks.
“We thought we could get the rebound,” Altman said. “That circumstance is what you fear and they missed the free throw, but we just didn’t get it done in overtime.”
Kris Wilkes had 14 points for UCLA and Hill had 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. The Bruins saw their 23 turnovers converted into 32 points by the Ducks.
Freshman Louis King scored a season-high 22 points and 10 rebounds for Oregon (9-6, 0-2), and Victor Bailey Jr. had 20 points. Paul White added 16 points.
UCLA made 10 of its first 11 shots to lead 22-17 but then went 1 for its next 14 to trail by 11 points with two minutes left in the half. Even worse, the Bruins struggled to handle the ball against Oregon’s half-court pressure and surrendered 19 points off 14 turnovers spread among seven players. Nine came on steals by the Ducks.
Oregon went ahead behind Bailey’s nine points during a 14-2 run for a 39-28 lead. Kris Wilkes, who had six of his seven turnovers in the first half, hit a 3 at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 39-32.
UCLA overcame sloppy ball-handling and an inability to keep its transition game rolling for a remarkable comeback victory. For the third game in a row, the Bruins had five players score in double figures.
Oregon put together its first impressive opening half against a Power 5 team since its win over Syracuse in mid-November and showed that it’s adapting to the loss of star freshman Bol Bol, despite losing at home for the third time this season.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Oregon’s leading scorer, Payton Pritchard, almost went scoreless for the first time in 90 career games until he hit four free throws in the last minute of regulation for his only points. The junior guard was 0 for 6 from the field and 0 for 5 from 3-point range. “I’m not sure (why),” Altman said. “We want him to look for shots and I thought the ball movement was pretty good. He missed a couple good looks, but we do need him to be more aggressive offensively.”
HE SAID IT
Bartow deflected all the credit to his players for the way they came back after falling behind 65-48 with less than seven minutes to go in regulation. “I kept telling them, ‘If we can just get it to nine, if we can just get it to nine,’ and we did,” Bartow said. “Guys just made a lot of plays. We didn’t run a lot of stuff and it’s nothing miraculous that I did.”
UCLA: At Oregon State on Sunday night.
Oregon: Hosts USC on Sunday night.