Star forward Arron Afflalo looks to shake the youthful label from UCLA and rebound from a rare poor performance Thursday when the No. 17 Bruins play Oregon in a Pac-10 Conference game.
UCLA (15-4, 5-2 Pac-10) will complete its road swing Saturday at Oregon State.
After being held to a season-low 22 points in the first half, UCLA (15-4, 5-2 Pac-10) rallied to pull within three before dropping a 60-56 loss Saturday to then-No. 12 West Virginia, which won their 12th straight.
Surprisingly, Afflalo, who leads the team in scoring at 17.6 points per game, contributed little to the rally.
The sophomore didn’t make his first basket until late in the second half and missed all six of his 3-point attempts. He shot 1-for-9 from the field to finish with a season-low four points, the first time all season he did not reach double digits.
For the injury-plagued Bruins, already without Josh Shipp, Lorenzo Mata and Cedric Bozeman, the loss did provide some positives it can play with the nation’s elite despite its youth and lack of personnel.
The Bruins have had to rely heavily on Afflalo and fellow sophomore Jordan Farmar, who finished with 22 points against the Mountaineers, and start three freshman. Bozeman, who has missed UCLA’s last eight games—including three of its four losses—has been cleared to play against Oregon if he logs under 10 minutes per half.
Bozeman’s presence, regardless of how much time he plays, could be just the boost the Bruins, who have lost two of the last three, need.
Saturday’s loss was UCLA’s third against Top 15 opponents. In each of those losses, the Bruins struggled in playing a complete game. Against Washington last week, the Bruins had a second-half collapse, while they failed to play consistent first halves in losses to Memphis and West Virginia.
Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had a career-high 13 rebounds for the Bruins.
UCLA leads the all-time series 74-24 and swept the season series last year for the first time since 2001.
The Ducks (10-9, 4-3) failed to overcome a 12-point halftime deficit in Saturday’s 78-59 loss to then-No. 10 Washington, ending their three-game winning streak.
“We talked about withstanding (the Huskies’) initial run, the first five minutes (after halftime), when they put a lot of teams away in this building,” Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. “In the second half, things got away from us a little bit.”
Malik Hairston led Oregon with 17 points, while reserve Brandon Lincoln added 12 as the Ducks lost for the 13th time in 14 games against ranked teams— one week after it upset then-No. 24 Arizona at home.
Oregon is opening a four-game homestand with this contest.