The UCLA Bruins fell to the Oregon Ducks 75-68 for their ninth loss on the season, despite holding a 13-point lead over Oregon after the first half.
In case you don’t have time to do the math, that’s 51 second-half points for Oregon, pretty shocking considering that Oregon was shooting at just a 23 percent clip from the floor coming out of the locker room. UCLA came out of the gate dominating (shooting at a 53 percent rate in the first half while also outrebounding the Ducks significantly), but faltered, again, late in the game.
Oregon out-scored UCLA 51-31 in the second half, while shooting 50 percent from the floor. The difference between the beginning of the game and the end of the game is night and day.
The story? Crappy guard play all-around down the stretch (and, this should be a given by now, Josh Smith’s lethargic attitude on the court). The defense broke down possession after possession as it did against Oregon State a few days ago.
Free throws were an issue, too, and initially, they were the reason the game was within reach for the Ducks. Oregon took 32 charity shots on the game and converted 88 percent of those. UCLA? 10-21 from the stripe, a damning percentage that essentially kept Oregon in the game from minute number one.
The implications for this game are incredible. Coach Ben Howland was already on the hot seat and going 0-2 on the trip to Oregon, despite both games being extremely winnable down the stretch, has probably heated that seat up considerably.
So here’s how it stands now in terms of implications: UCLA is 10-9 on the season and, from the looks of things, there’s no way a tournament birth happens barring everyone else in the Pac-12 is discovered to be ineligible. Nothing is guaranteed, to be sure, but that would leave us on the outside looking in for the second time in three years. The talent level isn’t nearly what it should be and the defensive end looks irreparable.
Westwood has never looked so bleak.