By REED NELSON
It took Oregon nearly a month to get back on track, but the Ducks finally resemble the team they were in late January.
And after four games stuck somewhere between the Bermuda Triangle and Bizarro World, Utah finally played like Utah and Oregon most certainly played like Oregon.
Four Ducks scored in double figures and injury-plagued PG Dominic Artis dished out a team-high four assists, Utah shot exactly 29.4 percent from the field AND from three-point range1 as Oregon blew out Utah 64-45.
In other words, the way Utah played in the second half Friday was so awful that it cosmically negated the great games they played leading up to Friday evening. Oregon’s defense is OK, but allowing that bunch to hold you to 29 percent from the field is like allowing a bicycle cop to pull you over while you’re driving a Ferrari. The Ducks, after all, gave up 91 points to UTEP.
UCLA, on the other hand, came back from their second straight double-digit second half deficit in two days in order to reach the championship game. On Friday, the 21st-ranked Bruins overcame No. 18 Arizona’s 11-point second-half lead to win 66-64.
In addition to the 11-point hole, the Bruins also had to overcome bad shooting (39 percent), worse three-point shooting (8 percent) and a woefully selfish brand of basketball (just 8 assists as a team) to knock off the pesky yet one-dimensional Wildcats.
Leading the charge was freshman Jordan Adams, who scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half. Adams was the only UCLA starter to score more than 10 points and shoot over 50 percent.
But tonight, the Bruins will have to get along without Adams, who injured his foot on the final play of the semifinal.
(Pausing to allow for the collective sigh of relief that just came from the Oregon faithful.)
Fun things to watch, observe or otherwise wait for
The Wear Bros vs. Tony Woods, Arselan Kazemi and Waverly Austin: UCLA’s twin bigs have been pretty good this season — one rung below the Plumlee’s, two rungs below the Lopez’s, one above the Sklar’s — but came through in a big way against ASU. The international lawfirm of Woods, Austin & Kazemi have played well this season in stretches, but have seemingly failed to put it all together at the same time. They’re going to need to in order to make up for the disadvantages Oregon is bound to face on the wings.
Shabazz Muhammad vs. Damyean Dotson and Carlos Emory: Muhammad is good enough to require the attention of two Oregon defenders, and unfortunately for Dotson and Emory, they’re the only two Oregon defenders with the size, strength and athleticism to match up with the Culture Mashup that is Muhammad. Sure, he only went 4-11 against Arizona, but when gets into, “I’m getting into the lane right now so you might as well move” mode, he ends up getting into the lane as if defenders had moved. Emory and Dotson are going to need to end up splitting foul-duty on Muhammad to keep him in check and off-balance.
Jonathan Loyd and Dominic Artis: If you combine their stats from the Utah game — 15 points and 6 assists on 3-of-7 shooting — they are a pretty good college point guard. The problem? Larry Drew II has become a really good college point guard, albeit one that can’t make free throws. If all else fails, Oregon might want to consider using the 10 fouls that Loyd and Artis have between them, then throwing in Willie Moore’s five fouls for good measure.
Bill Walton pronouncing Waverly Austin’s name: No name has ever sounded more beautiful in the history of name’s than the when “Waverly Austin” is spoken by the indelible Bill Walton. The way Walton delicately accents the “-ver-” as it melts into the “-ly-” perfectly juxtaposes the “Austin.” I think Bill Walton was put on this earth to play basketball, then allowed to stay in the public eye just to say that name. It makes sense. Give me one good reason why it doesn’t.
- Which, unlike their previous four victories, had to have been done on purpose. Even their four wins couldn’t have been on purpose, but no one — not Steve Kerr, not Rick Berry, not Watson the IBM Robot — could shoot 15-51 from the field and 5-17 from the field without meaning to. If they did, it would be a greater coincidence than whatever ridiculous shit happened to Henry Ziegland, the 19th Century’s most unlucky dude. Jump