UCLA (17-4, 6-2) At Oregon St. (12-8, 4-4) / Gill Coliseum / 11:30 AM / ESPN / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
After everyone ese in the Pac-12 played yesterday, the 2 winners from Thursday get to play a Super Bowl warmup. The morning start time should allow over an hour and a half for fans to get situated for the showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos though.
Its a hugely important game for both teams though, with a win doing a lot for either team, and a loss doing a lot of harm, in the conference race.
An Oregon St. win will put the Beavers above .500 in conference for the first time since 1999, and in a tie for 4th place in the Pac. A loss drops them to 8th place.
A UCLA win brings the Bruins within 1 game of first place, after Arizona's 60-58 loss last night at California. They will still be in second place even in the event of a loss, but 2 games back at the midway point in the conference race, with the 'Cats holding the tie breaker, but also only 2 losses away from 9th!
The Bruins claimed a 70-68 win over Oregon at Matt Court, which kept them in second place behind Arizona in the Pac-12 race, when Travis Wear scored with 5 seconds left, and then Kyle Anderson got a piece of Johnathan Loyd's last shot to extend the game, and Wear grabbed the ball out of the air to take the air out of the Ducks.
It was a balanced effort by the Bruins that pulled out the win. Jordan Adams, UCLA's leading scorer, had 19 points against the Ducks, exceeding his 17+ point per game average, and his back-court mate Norman Powell added 17 more.
T. Wear added 12, and Tony Parker just missed a double digit night, coming off the Bruin bench for 8 points.
Anderson almost had a double double, and it didn't involve scoring, as Oregon held UCLA's second leading scorer to just 5 points, or rebounds, which Anderson leads the Bruins in, averaging nearly 9 a game.
Anderson, who also leads UCLA in assists, averaging 6.8 per game, dished out 10 in the win, but wouldn't have been happy had he had that double double, as he also suffered 9 turnovers.
The Beavers also had an exciting night, and needed overtime to edge USC 76-75, in a game where Oregon St.'s largest lead of the game was by 2 points.
Roberto Nelson had the last 2 of his game high 24 points to give the Beavers one of those 2 point leads in the last minute of overtime, but only avoided a second overtime when Pe'Shon Howard, who hadn't missed a free throw, did on the 2nd of a pair with 9/10th of a second left.
Nelson, the Pac-12's leading scorer, had scoring help inside from Angus Brandt, who had 11 first half points on the way to a 14 point night, and Devon Collier, who added 13 off the Beaver bench. Both will probably need to come up big again if the Beavers are to hand with the Bruins.
Another thing that would help Oregon St. would be another effort from freshman guard Hallice Cooke similar to what he did to help beat the Trojans. Cooke chipped in 11 points, and none bigger than the second chance 3 pointer that was the Beavers last basket in regulation that tied the game.
The key part of that phrase was "second chance", one of many Oregon St. opportunities which came about because the Beavers got 19 offensive rebounds, and had an 11 board advantage over USC.
Upsetting the Bruins will be much easier if the Beavers can approximate that effort on the glass.
UCLA beat Oregon St. 74-64 last year in Los Angeles, which was the only game between the 2 teams, despite 17 points by Nelson. But the Beavers won 87-84 2 years ago, the last time the Bruins were in Corvallis, snapping a streak of 13 straight losses in the series, with a game high 21 points, 16 of which came in the second half, by Jared Cunningham leading the way.
Overall, the "Big Bad Bruins" have beat the Beavers 89 times in the 124 times they have met on the basketball court.