Oregon-UCLA Preview

The Associated Press

UCLA is playing for a Pac-12 tournament title in large part because of Jordan Adams' heroics.

He won't be able to help the Bruins any more, and Oregon is looking to take advantage.

Top-seeded and No. 21 UCLA will try to regroup Saturday night after Adams' season-ending injury when it looks to snap a three-game slide to the third-seeded Ducks and claim its fourth Pac-12 tournament crown.

The Bruins (25-8) are in their first conference final since beating Stanford in 2008, and Adams is a big reason.

The freshman guard scored 17 of his 24 points in the final 9:57 to help erase an 11-point deficit and lead UCLA to a 66-64 win over Arizona on Friday. But Adams limped off the floor after the Wildcats' final shot, and X-rays showed a broken fifth metatarsal, ending his season.

"The very last play of the game when they were shooting, somehow he came down and tweaked his foot," coach Ben Howland said of Adams, who averages 15.3 points.

The onus will be on Shabazz Muhammad to step up even more after Adams' injury, and he struggled Friday, finishing with 11 points on 4 for 11 shooting after scoring 16 points with nine rebounds Thursday. Both totals were below his season average of 17.9 points, and Howland feels he's become a target for defenses.

The Bruins are 12-1 when Muhammad tops the 20-point mark and 10-7 in games he's played and scored 19 or fewer.

"Everybody's dialed in on Shabazz. God bless him," Howland said. "He's seeing the team's best defender night in and night out, and they're really coming after him."

Muhammad struggled against then-No. 21 Oregon (25-8) on Jan. 19, going 4 for 9 from the floor to finish with 10 points in a 76-67 loss. He played 28 minutes but didn't start as punishment for being late to a practice.

Adams wasn't much help, either, hitting all seven free throws but missing all six attempts from the field, including four from long range.

Travis Wear, however, has scored 17 points in each of his two career meetings with the Ducks, combining to hit 15 of 23 from the floor. The junior forward has 26 points so far in Las Vegas.

He may need to have another productive game Saturday if UCLA intends to match Arizona's record of four Pac-12 tournament championships.

The Ducks are seeking their third title and first since beating Southern California in 2007.

"We know we're going to have our hands full," coach Dana Altman said.

That wasn't the case in Friday's semifinal as Oregon cruised to a 64-45 win over Utah after needing overtime the night before to hold off sixth-seeded Washington 80-77.

"We know that when we play as a team, when we show passion, have fun, it just showed how good we can be," forward E.J. Singler said. "That's going to take the same thing (Saturday). We've got to show a lot of passion, play together, have fun, and good things will happen for us. If we do that, I feel really good about our chances."

Another strong performance from Singler would help. The senior is averaging 17.0 points while making 56.3 percent from the field - 7 of 11 from behind the arc - over the past three games.

He wasn't very effective in the most recent meeting with the Bruins, mustering nine points after totaling 50 over the previous two. Center Tony Woods led the way in that January meeting with 18 points.

Freshman Damyean Dotson missed 9 of 11 shots in that game against UCLA, but he's picked up his play after a rough end to the regular season, totaling 31 points in his first two Pac-12 tournament games.

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