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Ducks Complete Sweep Of UCLA

Feb 24, 2022

EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon men's basketball team only trailed for 3 minutes Thursday night in a 68-63 win over No. 12 UCLA at Matthew Knight Arena that gave the Ducks a season sweep of the Bruins.

With their NCAA Tournament hopes needing a big boost, the Ducks provided it by holding UCLA to .368 shooting and outrebounding the Bruins, 44-33. Oregon matched its season high with 19 turnovers but otherwise executed well, after entering the night on the outside of the tournament bubble looking in.

"I thought the effort was really good," UO coach Dana Altman said. "Franck (Kepnang), his effort in the first half carried us, got the crowd into it, really gave us a lot of energy. The turnovers took away that energy, but I thought our guys played really hard. At this time of year, that's all we can ask."

How It Happened: Coming off an 84-81 loss at No. 3 Arizona that was equal parts encouraging and demoralizing, the Ducks came out Thursday looking intent on both playing well and winning. Buckets from De'Vion Harmon and N'Faly Dante gave Oregon an early 9-6 lead, and two free throws from Jacob Young made it 11-6. The Bruins quickly tied it, but Eric Williams Jr. put the Ducks back in front with a corner three, and Young scored in transition for a 16-11 lead.

After a Bruins free throw, four points from Will Richardson got the score to 20-12. The Ducks had two turnovers in their next three possessions as UCLA closed within 20-16, before Williams hit another three to stop the bleeding. Oregon had a couple more turnovers as the Bruins scored six straight to tie the score at 27-27, but Oregon answered with an 8-1 run capped by a deep three-pointer from Richardson and the Ducks led 35-30 at halftime. Kepnang blocked three shots in a span of five UCLA possessions during the 8-1 run.

Oregon took its largest lead of the night early in the second half, with a 13-4 run to lead 48-35. That run included a dunk and a banked hook shot from Kepnang, and a three-pointer by Harmon. But after Richardson put back a miss for that 48-35 lead with 13:55 left, the Ducks went 1-of-11 from the field over the next 9:30 of game time. UCLA whittled down the lead, and when the Ducks turned it over three straight times the Bruins capped a 10-0 run to lead, 54-53.

The Ducks didn't flinch, though. Richardson put them back in front with two free throws, and Young ended the 1-of-11 shooting stretch with a midrange jumper for a 57-54 lead with 4:25 to go. After the Bruins completed a three-point play to get within 59-57, the Ducks scored on their next five possessions to seal the win — including a three-pointer late in the shot clock by Harmon, and a dunk from Williams set up by a lob pass from Young.

"Great players and great teams thrive under pressure, and we did that," Harmon said. "And we gotta do it again (on Saturday against USC). But we did it tonight."

Who Stood Out: Harmon led the Ducks with 17 points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting, and he grabbed six rebounds. Young had 14 points, five rebounds and six assists, and Richardson overcame a 3-of-13 shooting night to contribute 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. Williams scored 11 points, and Kepnang finished with eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

What It Means: The Ducks badly needed a quality win to lift their sagging NCAA Tournament résumé, and they got it with a lift from a rowdy crowd fueled by an impressive turnout in the student section.

"The energy was great tonight," Altman said. "I keep talking to (the team) about one game — let's get ready and let's just play UCLA. And I'll be preaching the same thing (Saturday). They know where we're at; they know we're not in very good shape. Our only hope is to keep winning games. … I'm so thankful for the students. They were a big factor tonight, no doubt about it."

Up Next: The Ducks will host their final home game of the regular season against USC on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN2).