UCLA’s latest basketball games with Oregon are again postponed
UCLA and Oregon will presumably play again at some point, though the likelihood of it happening this season continues to diminish.
The Pac-12 Conference rivals have now had four games scheduled between each other postponed after it was announced Tuesday that the Ducks were pausing basketball activities for the second time in three weeks because of COVID-19 issues.
The Bruins and Ducks were scheduled to play Thursday and Monday at Pauley Pavilion as part of a sustained rejiggering of their schedules before those games were wiped out. Oregon’s game against USC on Saturday has also been postponed.
UCLA and Oregon were originally supposed to meet Dec. 23 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene before one game official tested positive for the coronavirus and the two others were barred from working because of contact tracing protocols, leading to a postponement. A makeup game scheduled for Jan. 19 in Eugene was postponed after Oregon paused basketball activities for the first time.
Stanford’s Oscar da Silva made a layup at the buzzer on an inbounds play to give UCLA its first Pac-12 loss this season, 73-72 in overtime in Santa Cruz.
Oregon’s continued issues with the virus could make it harder for the Ducks (9-3 overall, 4-2 Pac-12) to catch the Bruins (12-3, 8-1) and the other teams ahead of them in the conference standings unless their postponed games can be made up.
UCLA could conceivably use an open pocket on its schedule before playing USC on March 6 to make up at least one of the games because the Ducks also have only one game that week, against Oregon State on March 6.
While the Bruins have not had any players or coaches test positive for the virus this season, they have suffered through multiple disruptions. A nonconference game with Long Beach State was also postponed, rescheduled and postponed again because of COVID-19 issues with the Beach.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin spoke with reporters on Tuesday before the latest Oregon postponements were announced, saying he was seeking a way to keep heavily used guards Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. fresh with the two games against the Ducks expected to be part of a busy stretch of three games in five days.
Now the Bruins’ schedule has been significantly lightened; they are scheduled to play Oregon State (8-5, 4-3) on Saturday before having a week off ahead of their rivalry game against USC (12-3, 6-2) at the Galen Center on Feb. 6.
The play that led to sleepless nights was finally put to bed.
Cronin said he covered the breakdowns on the out-of-bounds play with eight-tenths of a second left that led to UCLA’s crushing 73-72 overtime loss to Stanford on Saturday before quickly moving on to other topics with his players.
“They’re going to kind of take on my tone,” Cronin said, “if I’m letting it linger.”
Among the things that went wrong, the Bruins worried too much about a lob and too little about the pass from along the baseline that led to Oscar da Silva’s buzzer-beating layup. Campbell chased the wrong player, Cronin said, allowing Da Silva to break open toward the basket.
“You’ve got to stay at home and we didn’t stay at home,” Cronin said, “and we had two guys outside the paint, which left somebody wide open in the paint.”
Cronin, who said he didn’t sleep for three nights after his team’s first Pac-12 loss, shouldered the blame, saying the final play was on him.
“If your guys make that mistake, to me that’s a coaching error,” Cronin said. “You’ve got to have them coached so well that that doesn’t happen. … Like I told the guys, we learned our lesson and shame on us if it happens again.”
UCLA rose one spot, to No. 23, in the Associated Press poll, while falling one spot, to No. 21, in the Coaches Poll.
Charisma Osborne had 24 points and nine rebounds, and No. 6 UCLA handed No. 5 Stanford its second straight loss, 70-66 on Friday night in Santa Cruz.
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