"The schedule, I think, is in our favor, and I think that we're ready to make a big push," UCLA Coach Jim Harrick said after the Bruins, winners over Stanford Saturday, won back-to-back conference games for the first time since they opened the Pac-10 season with a 2-0 record.
They overwhelmed the Ducks, putting together several quick scoring bursts to improve to 19-7 overall and 7-6 in the conference.
"Obviously, they had too much firepower," said Oregon Coach Don Monson, whose team had a four-game winning streak ended. "We didn't play badly, but we didn't play very aggressively. We were out there hoping good things would happen, but we didn't make good things happen."
Enough bad happened for Oregon to fall to 12-11 and 7-6.
And it won't get any easier for the Ducks, who will twice play ninth-ranked and conference-leading Arizona in the last two weeks of the season after playing USC Saturday at the Sports Arena.
UCLA faces a far less challenging road, including two games against Washington, which is last in the Pac-10.
The Bruins started their push toward the NCAA tournament behind forward Tracy Murray, who led a balanced attack, making nine of 18 shots, including four of nine three-point attempts, and scoring 27 points.
Don MacLean, who missed the Stanford game because of an eye injury, returned to score 17 points. Darrick Martin had 11 points and 13 assists, his career high for a conference game; Shon Tarver scored 11 points and Keith Owens had 12 points and seven rebounds in his most productive game since Jan. 2, when he had 14 points and six rebounds against USC.
Guard Terrell Brandon led Oregon with 21 points, but that's almost six points below his average. And Brandon, the Pac-10's leading scorer, was limited to six points in the last 29 minutes.
Brandon, who said he was bothered by an infected right knee, was guarded by Tarver most of the second half.
"I thought it was a great experience for (Tarver)," Harrick said.
Only a week ago, the Bruins had more urgent concerns. They were below .500 after 11 conference games for the first time in 22 years.
But then they beat Stanford without MacLean.
"I'd been looking for a turning point in our conference season," said Harrick, confident that the emotional victory over the Cardinal, which had won five in a row over the Bruins, would provide it.
Harrick was concerned, though, about containing Brandon.
"I would hope we wouldn't give him 32," Harrick said of the junior guard, who scored 32 points against the Bruins last month in a 90-83 Bruin victory at Eugene, Ore. "I'd hope we'd give him 22.
"(We can slow him by) tightening up, finding him in the open court, stopping the ball, taking the charge when he goes to the hole."
Easier said than done, it appeared at the start.
Brandon scored the last 11 points during a 15-3 run midway through the first half, helping the Ducks overcome a 10-point deficit and take a 27-25 lead on a layup by Brandon with 9:07 left in the half.
Brandon, though, didn't score again in the half.
A three-point play by Tarver ended Oregon's run and started a 15-2 run by the Bruins, who continued to pull away, outscoring the Ducks the rest of the half, 25-12, to build a 50-39 halftime lead.
Brandon had 15 points at halftime, but after UCLA built an insurmountable lead midway through the second half, he was pulled with 3:59 left, Monson probably realizing that Brandon was overdue for a rest.
Brandon sat out only 11 minutes in Oregon's first 22 games.
Oregon's Jordy Lyden made three three-point shots in the first two minutes of the second half as the Ducks twice pulled to within four points, but Martin then made a pair of three-point shots for the Bruins during a 13-2 run and UCLA's lead was back up to 67-52.
UCLA continued to pull away, building its lead to 20.
"I put in a new offense there and it worked for a while," Monson said. "But again they broke out and got us into a faster pace. It happened so quickly. It was 54-50 and the next thing I knew, it was 67-52. They just have too many guys who can score."
Coach Jim Harrick, on UCLA's 82-79 loss to California last week: "I don't know if we've ever been lower in our program than we were after that game." . . . And Harrick, on the Bruins' 89-86 victory over Stanford two days later: "Not counting NCAA tournament games, I probably haven't had a more satisfying win."
Oregon's Kevin Mixon, a senior guard from Jefferson High and El Camino College, has made his last 24 free throws and all but two of his 53 foul shots this season for a percentage of .962. . . . UCLA's Mike Lanier, a 7-foot-6 transfer from Hardin-Simmons who is redshirting this season, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee this week.
Don MacLean moved past Trevor Wilson and into third place on UCLA's all-time scoring list, behind Lew Alcindor and Reggie Miller.