UCLA turns Oregon’s new house upside down in 67-59 win
UCLA was like a housewarming guest who broke the crystal glassware and stained the new carpet.
The Bruins went into Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena on Saturday and took away a bit of the $227-million arena’s luster, rallying for a 67-59 victory over the Ducks.
Two days after Oregon rolled over USC in the first game played at the arena, UCLA overcame a slow start to become the first opposing team to win on the court.
“We made history, I guess you could say,” said freshman center Joshua Smith, who scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half to help the Bruins wipe out a three-point halftime deficit.
Junior guard Malcolm Lee scored 18 points on seven-for-13 shooting and junior guard Jerime Anderson tied a career high with 15 points for the Bruins (11-6 overall, 3-2 Pacific 10 Conference), who completed a road sweep of the Oregon schools.
Anderson was a particularly unlikely party crasher.
Maligned for much of his two-plus seasons, Anderson made three of five three-point baskets in a season-high 32 minutes off the bench in what Coach Ben Howland described as his “best game as a Bruin.”
“I was a lot more aggressive tonight and I have to give all the credit to my teammates,” said Anderson, who made a three-pointer and two free throws during an 8-0 Bruins push midway through the second half that gave them the lead for good.
The comeback was all the more impressive considering UCLA’s two leading scorers — sophomore forwards Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt — combined for only seven points. Nelson fouled out without scoring for the first time in his career after repeatedly jostling with E.J. Singler.
“They were just doing a lot of cheap shots,” said Nelson, who played a season-low 15 minutes. “I only retaliated one time and they caught me on it when Singler, who is probably the dirtiest of them all, did it.
“But that’s on me. I have to learn to control it all the time and not just some of the time.”
The non-sellout crowd of 11,089 was rocking for much of a first half in which the Ducks (8-10, 1-5) forced 12 turnovers and appeared on the brink of parlaying the adrenaline boost provided by their fancy digs into another victory when they took a 25-13 lead.
But UCLA started to spread the floor and attack the Ducks’ press, with junior guard Lazeric Jones driving for consecutive layups that helped the Bruins close to within three points at halftime. UCLA stayed aggressive without getting sloppy in the second half, committing only two turnovers in the final 12 minutes 57 seconds and withstanding the loss of Nelson after he fouled out with 4:59 remaining.
“Everybody stepped up and made big shots,” Anderson said.
Jones, playing with a “mallet” finger, dropped the hammer when he made a three-pointer with 2:29 remaining to give the Bruins a 63-55 lead. Smith extended the advantage to eight points on a tip-in with 1:51 left before immediately drawing a technical foul for yelling “Let’s go!” while looking at a Ducks player.
“The referee took it as trying to incite the opponent,” Howland said.
Singler made both of the technical-foul free throws, but the Ducks missed their next four shots and Smith blocked a layup by Jay-R Strowbridge to help preserve the Bruins’ second consecutive victory.
“We beat two pretty good teams at their house and now we have momentum,” Smith said, “so we’ll see how long we can carry it.”