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Loyd comes home, sparks Oregon to Pac-12 title

The SportsXchange

LAS VEGAS -- Oregon guard Johnathan Loyd, a Las Vegas native, returned home to score a season-high 19 points, leading the Ducks over UCLA 78-69 Saturday night in the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Ducks (26-8) earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the victory at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

UCLA, the Pac-12's regular-season champion, played without starting guard Jordan Adams, who broke his right foot on the last play of the game against Arizona on Friday night. Adams is out for the remainder of the season.

"When you lose one of your best players on your team, it's always something you have to try to overcome," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "We'll get better at that. We didn't have any time to prepare."

Oregon can relate to UCLA's injury problem because point guard Dominic Artis was lost for 11 conference games with a foot injury.

Loyd, selected the Pac-12 Tournament's Most Outstanding Player, was a replacement starter for Artis. He has continued in the starting role since Artis returned Feb. 28.

"Loyd picked himself up and gave us a big night," Oregon coach Dana Altman said of Loyd, who had only 15 points combined against Washington and Utah in his two previous games in the Pac-12 Tournament.

"We were 17-2 when D.A. (Artis) was healthy. Johnny struggled a bit when he replaced D.A. But he came back and played his role. He stuck with it."

Loyd's jump shot with 7:29 remaining put Oregon ahead 66-58, as part of a 12-6 surge. Loyd had four points in that important stretch after UCLA's Larry Drew II made a 3-pointer to cut the Ducks' lead to 54-52 with 12:07 left.

"He was fantastic," Howland said of Loyd, a product of nearby Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School. "He's at home, playing in front of family and friends. What a great experience for him to come in here and win the inaugural Pac-12 championship in his hometown."

UCLA (25-9) never threatened thereafter as Oregon held at least a six-point lead the rest of the way. Loyd's consecutive baskets put Oregon ahead 77-66 with 1:02 left to seal the victory and the Ducks' bench broke into a celebration.

UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, also a Bishop Gorman grad, came to life in the second half, much like he did previously against Arizona State and Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament, scoring 11 of his 14 points.

Muhammad scored 12 of his 16 points against ASU in the second half. He had nine of his 11 points against Arizona after halftime. Muhammad's seventh point of the second half against Oregon with 15:43 left cut the Ducks' lead to 49-46 after they led by as many as nine points earlier in the half.

Unlike UCLA's wins over ASU and Arizona, Muhammad was a non-factor when Oregon pulled away at the end.

Oregon center Carlos Emory led the Ducks with 20 points. Arsalan Kasemi posted a double-double for the Ducks, scoring 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Loyd, Emory, Kasemi and forward E.J. Singler (eight points and three assists against UCLA) are all senior leaders for Oregon.

"They have been a joy to coach," Altman said. "That kind of experience has meant the difference in a lot of the wins we've had this year, including this game."

UCLA opened the game with a sense of urgency without Adams. The Bruins built their biggest lead to 14-6 with 12:41 left in the first half.

Altman, angered by the Ducks' lackluster start, was seen throwing a stack of papers during a timeout huddle.

The Ducks responded with a 21-5 run to take a 27-19 lead with 6:08 left in the first half. That stretch culminated with two free throws made by Damyeon Dotson following a technical foul called against Ben Howland, who argued a charging foul called on Muhammad.

Howland took off his sports jacket and tossed it, drawing the technical. Much like Oregon responded following Altman's tirade, the Bruins awoke after Howland's display of anger. UCLA's David Wear made a 3-pointer and his twin Travis added a jumper to cut Oregon's lead to 27-24 with 5:08 remaining in the half.

"That's the first time I've had a technical foul in 11 years," Howland said. "I was very embarrassed by that to lose my composure."

Oregon, which scored 10 points off UCLA's turnovers in the first half, closed out the half with a 14-4 run to lead 41-32. The Bruins had eight turnovers in the first half after committing a total of only 11 against ASU and Arizona in the first two Pac-12 tournament games.

NOTES: Oregon has won two Pac-12 Tournament championships, the last in 2007. ... UCLA has won three titles, the last in 2008. ... This is the first appearance in the title game for both programs since their championships. ... Both programs appear headed to the NCAA tournament after failing to make the 68-team field last season. UCLA should make its first trip since 2011 and Oregon its first since 2008.
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