EUGENE Ore.--UCLA left Westwood on Wednesday without a road victory this season but returns with two after a 67-59 victory over Oregon on Saturday gave the Bruins a sweep of the Oregon schools.
In a familiar pattern, the Bruins (11-6, 3-2) got off to a slow start but put together an impressive second half to put the first stain on Oregon's new Matthew Knight Arena.
UCLA had to overcome a rough night from leading scorer Reeves Nelson, who fouled out without scoring, but got solid play from Jerime Anderson off the bench, a barrage of clutch three-point baskets down the stretch and a thorough domination by Joshua Smith in the waning moments.
Five observations from the game:
1Jerime Anderson keyed the victory
Anderson tied a career high with 15 points and was an especially welcome spark off the bench. He and Lazeric Jones sparked a stagnant UCLA offense in the first half and then Anderson became a consistent scoring threat in the second half.
He made four of seven shots, including three of five three-point attempts, and added three assists. He played a season-high 32 minutes.
"Jerime Anderson was the player of the game," coach Ben Howland said. "He came in and really did a great job for us offensively settling us down and making passes and making plays. That was Jerime’s best game as a Bruin in a huge game today."
Anderson has been solid in recent games, making nine of 13 shots over his last three games, including five of seven three-pointers. The junior guard has been maligned for poor play during much of his UCLA career, but appears on the verge of a major breakthrough.
"There’s always going to be haters and there’s always going to be naysayers even after tonight’s game, there’s still probably people out there saying stuff," Anderson said. "It’s part of life and it’s part of basketball. It’s part of this culture. So I just take it as I go and I just keep working hard and trying to get better."
2Clutch three-point shooting saved the day
UCLA fell behind, 25-13, in the first half but closed it to 27-24 by halftime before engaging in a see-saw second-half battle. The Bruins won it by dialing long distance. Anderson tied the score at 32-32 with a three-pointer with 15:38 to play, and that was just the beginning.
Anderson, Malcolm Lee, Tyler Honeycutt and Jones all made three-point baskets in the final nine minutes, when the Bruins made five of their nine attempts from behind the arc. Three of those three-pointers came after Oregon had closed to within three points of UCLA.
"That’s where you love it," Howland said. "The last 10 minutes our guys really seized the opportunity."
The three-pointers devastated Oregon, which made only one field goal in the final 3:52 of the game.
"The threes are back-breakers," Oregon forward E.J. Singler said. "When they hit threes and we're not hitting any of our shots, it's tough."
3Joshua Smith played a perfect compliment to the UCLA outside shooting
Simply put, Smith dominated the middle in the latter stages of the game. He finished with 15 points nine rebounds and a block and had five points, four rebounds and a block in the last 3:32.
Every time UCLA missed a shot, Smith, who easily outsized any Oregon post player, took over. He scored two baskets on offensive rebounds during that final dominant stretch.
"I knew they were going to crash down on me so I knew we were going to get wide open shots and Lee and Jerime for the most part hit the shots, and Zeek [Jones]," Smith said. "And every miss I was just trying to get."
About the only negative from Smith was when he picked up a technical foul for taunting after one of his offensive rebound put-backs gave UCLA a 65-57 lead with 1:51 to play.
"I didn't say anything to the player," Smith said. "It was just aggression. I got the rebound and it was just like a 'Let's go.' I think the ref called it because he didn't really hear what I said."
4Reeves Nelson had a tough night
Nelson, UCLA's leading scorer and rebounder, played only 15 minutes because of foul trouble. He eventually fouled out with 4:59 to play with no points and three rebounds. Nelson, averaging 14.8 points and 8.1 rebounds coming into the game, had the first scoreless game in his UCLA career.
"I don’t really care at all," Nelson said. "I’m just glad we got a win. If I can score, I’m going to try and score to help my team, but if I don’t, if we get a win I’ve never really been that kind of player. I don’t care if I score zero or 30."
Nelson blamed his fouls on mental lapses caused by what he called "cheap shots" from Oregon players.
"That’s what they have to resort to to get me out of my game, I guess," Nelson said. "I only retaliated really one time and they caught me on it and that’s when Singler -- who’s probably the dirtiest of them all -- did it. But that’s on me. I’ve got to learn to control it all of the time and not just some of the time."
5The Bruins deciphered Oregon's zone
It took some time to figure it out, but the Bruins figured out how to attack Oregon's zone by becoming more aggressive.
UCLA had six turnovers in its first 10 possessions, but had only two in the final 12:57 of the game. Guards Jones, Lee and Anderson and forward Tyler Honeycutt pushed the ball up the floor against Oregon's trap and then got the ball inside to Smith against the 2-3 half-court zone.
When the defense collapsed around Smith, the guards hit three-point shots.
"When we first came out we were playing into their hands and not attacking and not being aggressive," Lee said. "We just basically tried to figure out they were doing, trying to get a feel and when we were doing that, that’s when they were running up the score on us. Once we settled down, I think that’s when we worked our best and started attacking and kicking it and attacking it and giving it to the big fella."
Jones said the team didn't really understand Oregon's defense at first, but once they figured it out, the Bruins knew what to do.
"We were moving too fast and not really reading the zone," he said. "It was a matchup zone and we were thinking it was stationary zone that we couldn’t really move anywhere. Once we got the ball moving and we really got it inside and our shots started falling."