No. 12 UCLA’s shooting goes cold in loss to Oregon

Oregon guard Jacob Young, center right, shoots against UCLA forward Cody Riley.
Oregon guard Jacob Young, center right, shoots against UCLA forward Cody Riley (2) in the first half in Eugene, Ore., Thursday.
(Thomas Boyd / Associated Press)
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You have to want it more.

Playing on the road against a team craving victory, UCLA coach Mick Cronin said this week his Bruins would need to match, if not exceed, the physical and emotional output of Oregon to prevail at Matthew Knight Arena.

The Ducks were on the fringes of most NCAA tournament projections, leaving them in need of a signature victory against a nationally ranked team on national television.

By the time the Bruins caught up in the intensity department and on the scoreboard Thursday night, wiping out a 13-point deficit with some inspired play, they gave the lead and ultimately the game back to the Ducks.


UCLA committed a senseless foul to spark a pivotal sequence in which Oregon started to pull away for a 68-63 victory over the No. 12 Bruins on a night they finished the game without guards Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Juzang departed late in the first half with a right ankle injury and Jaquez fouled out on a charge with 2:59 left. Those absences compounded a sorry offensive performance in which the Bruins made just four of 24 three-pointers (16.7%) and failed to sustain any rhythm except for one defensive-fueled stretch in the second half.

Oregon students stormed the court in celebration of a season sweep of the Bruins (20-6 overall, 12-5 Pac-12), whose lead over the Ducks (18-10, 11-6) for third place in the conference standings was cut to one game.

Jaylen Clark’s defense has helped No. 12 UCLA limit top opponents’ scoring and is looking to do the same against Oregon on Thursday.

Feb. 23, 2022

In the continuation of a concerning trend, particularly while playing away from home, the Bruins did not seem motivated until falling behind by double digits.

“It’s just something we’ve been struggling with a little bit this year,” Jaquez said after finishing with 10 points and five rebounds. “Just not coming ready to play as we should have. I guess it was too late by the time they got up and we tried to make a run back, and then we made some errors, but it’s just something we’re gonna have to work on.”

Cronin said the game was lost after his team surged into a 54-53 lead on Jaquez’s putback only to send Oregon’s Will Richardson to the foul line. Richardson made both free throws to start a 6-0 push for the Ducks before Jaquez fouled out.


“We were up one, late clock, we let Will Richardson beat us left, that was a huge play because they were reeling at that point,” Cronin said. “We need to make them shoot a jump shot at that point. We’re a veteran team, we’ve got to be smarter than that.”

UCLA’s offense went cold, particularly from long range, and its defense couldn’t quite replicate the performances it turned in during a recent three-game homestand in which it had held every opponent under 60 points. Cronin also voiced his displeasure that his team took only 14 free throws to Oregon’s 24 on a night he said “there was a lot of contact at the rim both ways.”

UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. looks to shoot against Oregon center N'Faly Dante and forward Eric Williams Jr.
UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) looks to shoot against Oregon center N’Faly Dante, left, and forward Eric Williams Jr. (50) during the second half in Eugene, Ore., Thursday.
(Thomas Boyd / Associated Press)

The Bruins fell behind by 13 points six minutes into the second half, a deficit all the more frightening with Juzang, their leading scorer, sidelined with a right ankle injury he suffered late in the first half.

Seeking a spark, Cronin found a big one in Peyton Watson. The freshman guard buried a jumper, converted a nifty pass from Cody Riley into a reverse layup and swatted a Richardson layup out of bounds.

When Jaquez put back his own miss, the Bruins had completed a 12-1 run to take a one-point lead. But the Ducks commenced their push to regain control and not even a Riley three-point play in which he followed a driving layup with a free throw could help his team catch up.


Riley and point guard Tyger Campbell scored 12 points each to lead the Bruins, who shot 36.8% to Oregon’s 43.8%. Riley started the second half over Myles Johnson, Cronin said, to give his team an offensive boost.

“I thought we needed scoring [and] he’s a better scorer,” Cronin said. “Challenged his toughness, a gut thing. I thought the intensity of the game early, Myles wasn’t as physical and intense as he needed to be, Cody’s a veteran guy, he’s been in fights like this before and I thought he could get us interior scoring because we were struggling to make shots.”

With UCLA in the middle of a busy schedule, coach Mick Cronin is doing all he can to keep his players fresh before March.

Feb. 20, 2022

Guard De’Vion Harmon scored 17 points, including a huge three-pointer late in the shot clock with 21/2 minutes left, to lead four Ducks in double figures.

In an oddity, Juzang did not take a shot until there were nine minutes left before halftime, swishing a baseline jumper. He made two of six shots before his injury forced him to limp off the court. Juzang tested his ankle with some movements in a hallway leading to the locker room but never returned.

It was a symbolic sequence for a team on the way to another disappointment on the road, where it has lost three of its last four games, pleasing everyone but itself.