The UCLA Bruins have had six of its 10 scheduled games since the start of December either postponed or canceled, but they are back to work after a tough test at California in their Pac-12 road opener.
The last three times Oregon played at UCLA, the game was decided by less than 10 points, but each time it was the host Bruins coming out on top.
No. 3 UCLA was given even odds to win the Pac-12 title before the season started. Now the Bruins are one of three Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press Top 25 poll so the next couple of months should be entertaining.
- Game: Oregon (9-6) at UCLA (10-1)
- Location: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles
- Day/Time: Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET
- Television: ESPN
Oregon Ducks at UCLA Bruins
Another Big Test for Improved Ducks
Things didn’t quite go as planned the last two times one of Oregon’s games came down to the wire. The Ducks lost back-to-back games to Arizona State by two points and to Stanford by three. When Oregon went on the road to play rival Oregon State and came away with a 78-76 win as Eric Williams Jr. hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds left to play, it had to be just what the Ducks needed.
The win was the third in a row and second straight in Pac-12 play. However, the recent run of success really began to take shape when Oregon made top-ranked Baylor work for an eight-point win back on Dec. 18.
Oregon outrebounded Baylor 30-28 and led by as many as 10 points in the first half. The Ducks shot 54 percent against one of the nation’s best defensive teams and that should only help them as they face the Pac-12 heavyweights, beginning with UCLA.
“I told them afterward, there’s been some games where we didn’t get ready and our competitive level wasn’t good,” Oregon coach Dana Altman told the media after the Baylor game. “Our competitiveness was good. The rebounds against a big, physical team, we were right there.”
Will Richardson got off to a bit of a slow start scoring less than 10 points in four straight games in one stretc, but he is averaging 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists during the three-game winning streak. Jacob Young (16 points per game during the three-game streak) and De’Vion Harmon are also in a nice place right now.
Eight of Oregon’s last nine games went over the total set by the Las Vegas odds.
Campbell Pointing Way for UCLA
It has been more than a decade since the UCLA Bruins have had the same starting point guard for three consecutive seasons.
Tyger Campbell is playing like somebody who has faced some tough competition at the college level.
Even when UCLA didn’t play for nearly a month because of COVID-19 protocols, it did little to slow down Campbell, who had 10 assists and no turnovers in an early January win over Long Beach State. He followed that up with 17 points and four assists in last week’s win over California. It was the first conference game for the Bruins since December.
Campbell is averaging 19 points and 4.5 assists in two Pac-12 games. He has continued to show growth as a shooter and a scorer. He shot 35.8 percent from the field as a freshman, 42.9 last season and is connecting on 48 percent this season. His work from three-point range is even more impressive.
Campbell shot 26 percent from long range in his first two seasons, but through the first 11 games of his junior campaign, he is 24 for 48 from three-point range.
“I’m just confident,” Campbell said after the Cal game. “If I see an open shot, I’m going to take it and try to make it. My teammates were setting me up and putting me in good position. I am confident. It’s cool I’m shooting 50 percent right now. I just want to extend it for the rest of the season.
“That’s all that matters to my team. It’s not about personal stuff. I just worked really hard in the offseason and then constant reps after practice and being confident as well when getting the shot and knocking it down when I need to.”
Another bonus for UCLA is the return of Cody Riley, who missed eight games but has 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals in the last two contests.
— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) January 12, 2022
The total set by the college basketball spreads has gone under in six of UCLA’s last seven games.
UCLA Looks to Stay Perfect at Home
UCLA is one of four teams in the Pac-12 with perfect home records. The Bruins are averaging 91.3 points in six home games.
Recent UCLA-Oregon games have been fun to watch with the last six going over the total. This game could trend that way as well, although as USC’s recent game with Stanford illustrated, it is hard to judge how COVID-related schedule changes alters the quality of play for even the best teams.
One concern for Oregon is that the Ducks rank second to last in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense, which could be an issue against a talented UCLA squad.
The total of 141½ is lower than it probably would be if UCLA didn’t have so many stops and starts this season due to the pandemic but it won’t be a surprise to see the game go over that number. That total is something those who bet online will be tempted by.