LOS ANGELES -- The Oregon Ducks men's basketball team plays in an area -- and an arena -- marked by spectacularly tall trees. For the No. 21 Ducks' showdown with No. 24 UCLA, though, they brought the trees with them -- in the form of senior center Tony Woods and senior forward Arsalan Kazemi.
Oregon out-scrapped, out-toughed and, most importantly, out-rebounded the Bruins en route to a 76-67 win before an announced crowd of 12,254 at Pauley Pavilion. The Ducks (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) pulled down 40 rebounds (including 13 offensive boards) to UCLA's 31.
"We showed a lot of toughness and determination," Ducks coach Dana Altman said. "I thought (rebounding) was the difference in the game."
Woods made eight of his nine shots -- including three dunks -- en route to a game-high 18 points. Kazemi, a transfer from Rice who was not cleared to play until Nov. 15, had 12 points 11 rebounds. In all, Oregon had four players in double figures, as freshman guard Dominic Artis added 14 points and fellow freshman guard Damyean Dotson had 11.
Both teams entered riding big waves of momentum as UCLA had won its last 10 games and Oregon its last six. Included in the Ducks' run was a sweep of the Arizona schools last weekend highlighted by their 70-66 upset over then-No. 4 Arizona. That win got Oregon back into the polls for the first time since 2007.
Now they sit alone atop the conference for the first time in nearly as long. The Ducks have their first 5-0 start in the conference since 1974, when the conference was known as the Pac-8. The Ducks began the 1973-74 season 5-0 in the Pac-8 before losing at No. 1 UCLA. UCLA had already reached that 5-0 mark with its win over Oregon State two days earlier.
Oregon came out of the gate hot. Artis hit the first shot of the game 12 seconds in, a 3-pointer, assisted by senior forward Carlos Emory. Artis then returned the favor on the next possession, dishing the assist on Emory's 3. In all, Oregon hit its first four shots but was only able to open an 11-7 lead, as the Bruins (15-4, 5-1) were nearly as hot.
On one possession early in the first half, Oregon kept the ball in its end for nearly a minute, gaining four offensive rebounds and setting the tone for the rest of the game.
"We were hurt on the glass, especially in the first half," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "Coming in I thought Oregon was a good team but I was impressed by how tough and scrappy they were."
Freshman swingman Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA's season leading scorer, did not start because he was late to the Bruins' practice on Friday. He sat for the first 5:02 against Oregon and left five minutes later without scoring a point with only one shot attempt. Muhammad closed the first half on a tear, though, scoring the Bruins' final eight points and 10 of their last 12 in igniting a 19-12 Bruins run in the final 7:35 that gave them a 40-37 halftime edge. Those would be Muhammad's only points on the day.
The second half did not begin as well for the Bruins. Oregon, much like it had in the first, came out hot and at one point mounted an 8-0 run while the Bruins were silent for over five minutes.
By the time Anderson's lay-in found its way through the net with 10:29 remaining to play, the Bruins were only down 49-46. But Woods, Dotson and Kazemi made sure there would be no Bruins comeback, combining for 19 of the Ducks' final 27 points in keeping UCLA at bay.
"We're a jump-shooting team and we missed some open looks that didn't go down there in the second half," Howland said.
UCLA was paced by junior forward Travis Wear's 17 points, while sophomore guard Norman Powell had 11 and Muhammad and Anderson each had 10. Anderson added 11 rebounds for the sixth double-double of his career. The Bruins shot 55 percent in the first half but just 36 percent in the second.
"When you're ranked, it doesn't matter who you play -- every team is going to come at you because they want to be there," Kazemi said.
NOTES: The win for Oregon is its third straight over the Bruins... UCLA senior guard Larry Drew II had eight assists on Saturday, his eighth straight home game with at least seven... Kazemi's double-double was his fourth at Oregon and 49th of his collegiate career... The win for Oregon gave Altman, in his fourth season, a 3-2 all-time record against UCLA... UCLA freshman post Tony Parker played just three minutes but logged two rebounds and a block.