UCLA hopes to stay atop the Pac-10 Conference and complete a road sweep of Oregon opponents Saturday when it plays Oregon State.
The 17th-ranked Bruins (16-4, 6-2 Pac-10) are the only team in the conference with two losses and trying to win at Oregon State for the first time since 2003. UCLA has not completed a sweep of Oregon and Oregon State since 2001.
Additionally, UCLA lost two of three games to Oregon State last season, including a 79-72 defeat in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament, and three of four overall. But the Bruins put themselves in position for the road sweep after a 56-49 victory Thursday at Oregon.
Arron Afflalo made four free throws down the stretch, and the Bruins held the Ducks scoreless the final 1:14 for their second straight win at Eugene, Ore.
“Our defense kept us in the game when we really had an inability to score,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “When you go on the road, you’ve got to be able to rely on your defense.”
Afflalo leads the Bruins in scoring, averaging 17.3 points and 4.6 rebounds. Fellow sophomore guard Jordan Farmar is averaging 13.4 points and a team-high 5.8 assists.
The Bruins will play Saturday without sophomore center Lorenzo Mata, whose right knee fracture has him sidelined 6-8 weeks, and third-leading scorer Josh Shipp (right hip) who’s lost for the remainder of the regular season.
Senior guard Cedric Bozeman returned to the Bruins’ lineup, playing 18 minutes of Thursday’s game off the bench after missing nearly four weeks with a shoulder injury.
Oregon State (10-9, 3-5) is trying to regroup from a 72-70 overtime loss Thursday to Southern California. Chris Stephens and Nick DeWitz scored 16 points apiece for the Beavers, whose last three losses have been by a combined eight points.
DeWitz, for one, believes the Beavers will have a better effort with a higher-profile opponent.
“Our focus isn’t there when we’re not playing UCLA, Arizona or Cal,” he said. “We play harder when a better team is out there, I guess.”
The Beavers again will be without senior point guard Lamar Hurd, who is sidelined with a groin injury. Hurd is averaging only 6.1 points and 2.8 assists, but coach Jay John measures Hurd more for the stability and leadership he brings than statistics.
“We’ve missed having Lamar period,” Oregon State coach Jay John said. “He’s our best rebounding guard … Abdominal pulls or abdominal strains are difficult for athletes at any level.”
Stephens leads Oregon State with a 14.5 scoring average. DeWitz is contributing 11.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season—second-best on the team in both categories.
UCLA leads the all-time series with Oregon State 76-33.