Life is a little harder on the road.
UCLA learned that in a men's basketball loss to Utah two weeks ago, and received a refresher course at Oregon on Thursday. The difference was the Bruins won in Eugene.
It took a village — Jordan Adams, Tony Parker, Travis Wear, etc. But it certainly could not have been accomplished without junior guard Norman Powell.
What the 6-foot-4 Powell does on the court has an effect away from home. He scored 17 points in UCLA's 70-68 victory over Oregon, 15 coming at the free-throw line or within inches of the rim.
"He drives the ball so hard and is great in transition," Coach Steve Alford said.
Two things, Alford said, that are important on the road, where teams tend to struggle more from the outside.
During Pac-12 Conference play, UCLA is shooting 48% at home, including 46% on three-point shots. On the road, the Bruins are 42% from the field and 36% on three-pointers.
Powell can force the issue on offense, as he did against Oregon. His push to the hoop got him to the free-throw line. He made seven of eight free throws.
"We wanted to get them in foul trouble, get points at the line," Powell said. "That was the emphasis because Oregon is a small team. They don't have a real shot blocker. The main focus was to get to the rim."
Powell did, and when not fouled, he had two dunks and two layups. He also had six rebounds, three on offense.
"I want to have high energy out there, a high motor," Powell said. "That is what can help the team."
It came in spurts Thursday.
UCLA trailed, 36-32, at halftime. Powell opened the second half with a dunk and scored eight of UCLA's first 10 points. That fueled a 13-2 run
Powell revved up later in the half to give the Bruins a double-digit lead. He had consecutive three-point plays, a layup and a free throw followed by a dunk and a free throw.
It was the type of road work that wins games. UCLA had 14 field goals in the second half against Oregon, 11 on layups or dunks.
Besides the offensive push, Alford said Powell gave the Bruins defensive energy.
"People don't realize what a great defender he is for us," Alford said. "He has big hands and gets a lot deflections."
UCLA will need Powell's defensive prowess against Oregon State on Sunday. Roberto Nelson, the Beavers' 6-4 guard, averages 22.3 points per game to lead the Pac-12.
Kyle Anderson suffered through his worst game of the season. He was one for eight from the field against Oregon, finishing with six points. He also had nine turnovers.
Alford attributed part of it to fatigue. Anderson played the entire second half.
"We got a little sloppy in the second half, and maybe that's a little my fault," Alford said. "I didn't get Kyle out and get him a rest. A little of that is on me because I got to get him at least a two-minute blow. I didn't."
It wasn't a completely forgettable evening for Anderson. He had 10 assists and blocked Johnathan Loyd's last-second shot that could have sent the game into overtime.
Parker had another perplexing evening. The center was invisible in the first half, then was a force around the basket, making all four of his shots in the second half before fouling out.
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