Kyle Anderson (USATSI)
At the end of a nightmarish game in which he missed seven of the eight shots he attempted and committed a career-worst nine turnovers, Kyle Anderson still found a way to help his team defeat Oregon.
The UCLA sophomore made the key defensive play Thursday night that preserved a 70-68 victory.
As Oregon's Johnathan Loyd drove the length of the floor with just a few ticks left in the game, Anderson shrewdly recognized that there wasn't enough time for the point guard to do anything but shoot. Anderson wisely left his man free spotted up behind the arc, helped on Loyd and swatted away the 5-foot-8 guard's 15-foot pull-up jump shot from behind, ensuring UCLA's two-point lead would hold up.
UCLA's victory solidified the Bruins as the latest team to earn the label of second-best in the Pac-12 behind top-ranked Arizona. At 17-4 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-12, the Bruins trail the Wildcats by two games in the conference standings but they're also at least a game ahead of everyone else in the league.
Oregon was supposed to be one of the teams capable of pushing Arizona after completing the non-league season unbeaten, but everything has unraveled for the Ducks since Pac-12 play began. They've lost six of their eight games, the only victories a final-possession squeaker at Utah and a rout of last-place Washington State.
To extend Oregon's misery on Thursday night and earn its best true road win of the year, UCLA needed everyone else to step up to make up for Anderson's rare off night.
Jordan Adams scorched Oregon's defense off the dribble and from the perimeter the way other big guards have this season, finishing with a team-high 19 points to go with six rebounds. Norman Powell was a menace in transition in the second half and scored two of his 17 points on a huge fast-break slam over Richard Amardi. And Travis Wear scored his biggest basket of the season on UCLA's final possession, knocking down a short floater in the lane to put the Bruins up two with five-plus seconds to go after recovering a loose ball when it got stripped from Adams on his way to the rim.
Oregon appeared dead and buried long before Wear's basket, but a 14-0 spurt brought the Ducks back from 65-54 down with less than six minutes to go. Joseph Young scored seven of his 25 points during the stretch and Jason Calliste added the go-ahead 3-pointer that gave the Ducks their first lead since early in the second half.
Not even huge games from Calliste and Young could save Oregon from another home loss, though.
UCLA got the big road win it needed to stay within striking distance of Arizona. Meanwhile Oregon failed to build on the momentum it gained from clobbering Washington State a few nights earlier.
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