Better Ball Movement Fuels Scintillating Shooting In Win Over UCLA
by Rob Moseley
EUGENE, Ore. — Remarkable offensive precision, particularly in the first half, propelled the Oregon men's basketball team to an 82-64 victory over UCLA before 7,301 in Matthew Knight Arena on Saturday afternoon.
How It Happened: The Ducks shot .623 for the game (33-of-53) and .692 from three-point range (9-of-13), just off the arena record for field-goal percentage but breaking the record for three-point accuracy. That included an amazing .750 overall in the first half (18-of-24), as the Ducks moved the ball as well as they have all season and consistently made the extra pass to find a teammate for an open shot. Three players ended up hitting every shot they took in the game, and five scored in double figures.
Oregon first went up double digits on a jumper by Ahmaad Rorie for a 20-10 lead. Dwayne Benjamin hit a three-pointer on the next possession for a 23-12 advantage, and the Ducks' lead remained in double digits the rest of the way. Another Benjamin three pushed the lead past 20 at 42-21 late in the first half. UCLA made its first six shots after halftime and got within 11 a couple times, but the Ducks held serve. Benjamin got the lead to 20 again at 76-55 when he elevated to put back a miss with a reverse jam.
Who Stood Out: Benjamin made all six of his field-goal attempts, with three three-pointers, to finish with 15 points. Joseph Young led the Ducks with 16, Elgin Cook added 11 and Rorie and Jalil Abdul-Bassit scored 10 apiece. Rorie was 4-of-4 from the floor with two threes. Jordan Bell scored six, led the Ducks in both rebounds (seven) and assists (five) for the second straight game and also blocked two shots. Bell's willingness — both Saturday and also in Thursday's win over USC — to receive a pass in the low block but then still look for an open teammate rather than immediately put up a shot helped set the tone in terms of Oregon's ball movement.
What It Means: The Ducks (14-6, 4-3 Pac-12) won consecutive conference games for the first time this season, and gained some separation on the Bruins, who were also 3-3 in Pac-12 play entering the afternoon. And while Oregon didn't repeat its scintillating first half, the Ducks were solid after halftime, after squandering leads in the second half last week at the Washington schools and allowing USC to close the gap and tie Thursday's game late. Inconsistent ball movement and lax defense in the second half have hurt Oregon in recent weeks, but if Saturday's game was any indication, the Ducks are addressing those areas.
Quotable: "At the beginning of the year I thought we were moving the ball well. Toward the middle of the season we started trying to make plays for ourselves. Now as a team we talk about it everyday, trying to make a play for somebody else. ... Tonight definitely shows that if we move the ball, everyone can make open shots." — Benjamin
"(Protecting the halftime lead) was the biggest confidence boost coming out of today. We had a pretty good lead at Washington and we let them come back. Going into halftime we said we were going to win the game with defense." — Benjamin
"(Bell) is getting in there and he's not making selfish plays. He's looking for open people. I showed the guys after our last ballgame how many plays he made for guys. He hit a nice little jump hook and he's starting to develop some offense, but he's also a very good passer." — UO coach Dana Altman
Odds and Ends: UO freshman Dillon Brooks played off the bench for the second time this season, and the first in conference play. ... Freshman Roman Sorkin, who joined the Ducks earlier this month, made his UO debut late in the game and hit a jump shot in the final minute. ... The Bruins played their second straight game without 6-foot-9 forward Tony Parker (back), who averages 10.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. .. Oregon won consecutive games in conference play for the first time since closing last season with seven straight Pac-12 wins.
Up Next: The Ducks go on the road to face No. 7 Arizona on Wednesday (7 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks).