Oregon Ducks

New UCLA coach Chip Kelly could haunt Oregon or get exposed

New UCLA coach Chip Kelly could haunt Oregon or get exposed

Chip Kelly could have returned to the Oregon Ducks last year. He chose not to because he never shared the same level of love for Oregon and its fans that they feel for him, almost embarrassingly so. 

Now Kelly becomes the new coach at UCLA and will be gunning to take down the Ducks program where he made his name as a head coach. The Bruins, who on Monday introduced Kelly during a press conference, will visit Oregon on Nov. 3.  It will be the biggest sporting event in the Northwest in 2018. For the state of Oregon, it will be the equivalent of when former NFL quarterback Brett Favre returned to Green Bay as the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings. 

Kelly becoming UCLA's new coach was a punch in the gut for Oregon fans that blindly believed he bled green and yellow. Kelly could have gone to the SEC where he would have only encountered Oregon in a bowl game. But no, he chose to take less money (five years, $23.5 million) than he would have received from Florida, which went after him hard, in order to reside in the Pac-12 where he will compete against the Ducks, and others, for Pac-12 supremacy. 

Should Kelly pick up where he left off at Oregon where he won three conference titles in four years, a Fiesta Bowl, a Rose Bowl and guided UO to a national title game, the Ducks under coach Willie Taggart could be in for a long, painful ride while wondering why Kelly didn't want to return to Oregon. 

The Ducks talked to Kelly last year about a potential return after firing Mark Helfrich following a 4-8 season. Heck, Helfrich, before he was let go, said he reached out to Kelly to ask him to return to UO in order to save the coaching staff. Kelly declined. He reportedly said he didn't want to quit on the San Francisco 49ers despite nearing the end of a 2-14 season. Or, was it really that he simply didn't want to return to Oregon under any circumstances? He had to have known that the 49ers could very well have been ready to quit on him as they did a month later. We could give Kelly the benefit of the doubt and just buy that he stayed with the 49ers out of principle and would have taken the Oregon job if it were available right now. But nobody I've ever spoken to at Oregon that is in the know believes Kelly would ever return to Oregon. 

The Ducks, as it turned out, appear to have lucked out with coach Willie Taggart, the Ducks' seventh choice if we're counting Kelly. Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens could very well have made a genius hire in Taggart, who has already demonstrated that with a healthy Justin Herbert at quarterback he can produce the same types of offensive numbers that Kelly did while at Oregon. 

This entire situation presents a double-edged sword for Oregon fans who vilified Helfrich for supposedly destroying what Kelly built. If Oregon's success from 2009 through 2015 was all truly about Kelly, even after he left following the 2012 season, then he should be expected to duplicate that success at UCLA and do so at the expense of Oregon.

Or, maybe Kelly falters in his first opportunity as a coach taking over a rebuild that requires assembling a staff and completely reinventing a program. He's never done that at the college level.

Taggart, however, is in his third stint of rebuilding a program. He is a better recruiter than Kelly is or would ever hope to be given that he dislikes that aspect of college coaching. However, Kelly won't have to work as hard at recruiting while operating in the talent-rich area of Southern California and being armed with a brand new, $65 million Wasserman Football Facility that rivals Oregon's Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. 

So the arms race is on between UCLA and Oregon with much at stake. Taggart not only faces the prospects of living up to grand expectations at Oregon created by Kelly's three consecutive Pac-12 titles (2009-2012) but he will have to match them while competing against Kelly both for players and titles. 

It is quite possible that Oregon and UCLA could meet in a Pac-12 title game soon enough. That is, if the college game hasn't already passed Kelly by. 

Be sure that nobody in the Pac-12 is afraid of Kelly and not because of his unsuccessful stint in the NFL. Kelly didn't fail in the NFL on the field. He failed off of it in terms of dealing with coaching adults. On the field, Kelly had a winning record in Philadelphia despite issues at quarterback. He had no chance to win in San Francisco with that mess of a roster and was let go. His offense scored. He simply was never given enough time to see his rebuilds through to the end. 

So now the question is: Will Kelly live up to his God status with many Oregon fans and dominate at UCLA. Or, will he be exposed for simply being a good coach who caught lightning in a bottle for four years at Oregon? 

In college, Kelly benefited from inheriting an already strong program in place under Mike Bellotti and his staff. The Ducks had already contended for national titles. UCLA under Jim Mora Jr. went 4-8 in 2016 and was 5-6 when he got fired.  

Also, while at Oregon Kelly ran what was then a unique offense in terms of its pace. Not scheme. Pace. Big difference. Oregon's no-huddle offense, adopted by Bellotti in 2005 and sent into overdrive by Kelly, wore down opposing defenses that lacked the offensive firepower to keep pace.  Most of Kelly's victories during the 2010 and 2011 seasons were iced in the second half when close games moved in Oregon's favor because opposing teams ran out of gas. Who will ever forget Cal resorting to having defensive players fake injuries in order to slow down the Ducks' offense?

Today, most of the conference runs up-tempo offenses, and all of the programs have changed the way they prepare on defense in order to be able to hold up over the long haul.  Only six of 10 conference teams in 2010 averaged 25 points or more with four over scoring more than 30 per game. This season, 11 teams averaged 25 points or more with eight averaging 30 or more. 

This doesn't mean Kelly can't overcome the trend if he averages about 45 per game again as he did at Oregon. What will be interesting is to see if he can make sure UCLA is good enough on defense to avoid seeing opponents, such as Oregon, also rack up 40 on the Bruins while they give no regard to time of possession. 

Kelly has never before had to deal with that dilemma. Well, he sort of did in the NFL and it didn't quite workout so well. 

That said, one of Kelly's strength is stressing and teaching fundamentals. Ask any of his former players and they will tell you that his attention to detail and the culture he created at UO helped foster success. As for the Xs and Os, Kelly will make sure UCLA doesn't beat itself very often. 

However this all plays out, Kelly being back in the Pac-12 promises to be quite entertaining. Either the Ducks will return to championship form and in the process damage the Kelly mythology that has some comparing him to Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. Or, Kelly will live up to his legacy and by doing so, deny Oregon its return to glory along the way, which would be a double whammy for Ducks fans. 

Can't wait to see how this plays out. 

Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens named next CFP Selection Committee Chair

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Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens named next CFP Selection Committee Chair

In the first year of the College Football Playoff existence, UO director of athletics Rob Mullens got to experience the selection process as a participant, before Oregon's run to the national championship game to cap the 2014 season.

For the last two years, Mullens had an insider's view, as a member of the 13-person selection committee. And for the next two years, Mullens will gain yet another perspective, after being announced Wednesday as chair of the selection committee for a two-year term beginning with the 2018 season.

"This is an incredible honor," Mullens said. "It's the opportunity to be involved in an extremely important, intense element of college athletics, with the added bonus of working alongside a group of accomplished professionals. I was obviously a firm believer in the process already, but stepping into it and having a chance to be part of the committee, it reaffirmed everything."

Mullens, who has been director of athletics at Oregon since 2010, will be the third CFP selection committee chair since its inception. He follows former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long and, for the past two seasons, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt.

Hocutt was chair for the first two years of Mullens' term on the committee. Mullens is being appointed to a two-year term as chairman – which will include being spokesman for the committee following the weekly rankings that are released beginning midway through the season.

"Kirby's done a fantastic job," Mullens said. "Having the opportunity to serve under his leadership for two years was a great experience. Although the chair serves as spokesperson, you're really there to represent the voice of the committee. Every member is extremely involved; they arrive incredibly prepared and ready to get it right. The chairman is just the voice of the committee, a role Kirby handled extremely well."

The selection committee meets over two days at the beginning of each week in Dallas, beginning at midseason. It ranks a weekly top 25 and then, after the regular season, chooses the four playoff semifinal participants as well as the matchups for the other New Year's Six bowl games.

Individual committee members are assigned as "point person" for individual conferences; in 2017, Mullens was responsible for providing research on the Big Ten and Mountain West. The chair is not tasked with that responsibility, instead setting the agenda and facilitating discussion in the meetings, then serving as spokesman along with CFP executive director Bill Hancock.

"We are delighted that Rob will be stepping into this role," Hancock said. "He is an experienced committee member, extremely passionate about college football, detail-oriented and brings a high level of energy that is perfectly suited to chairing the committee."

Hancock originally contacted Mullens about his possible appointment as chair. The CFP management committee, made up of 10 conference commissioners and the athletic director from Notre Dame, officially appoints the chair.

"The system works," Mullens said. "You're in there with 12 other outstanding people who understand the enormity of the task, who have great integrity and value the importance of integrity to the process.

"When you have 13 different voices, there's a lot of conversation. But I always left knowing that everybody in there had integrity at the top of their mind, everyone was well-prepared, and the conversation was incredibly thorough."

No. 8 Oregon remains PERFECT in Pac-12 play with win over No. 18 ASU

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No. 8 Oregon remains PERFECT in Pac-12 play with win over No. 18 ASU

How Oregon won: After an ugly win at home last Friday over unranked Arizona, the Ducks welcomed in the Arizona State Sun Devils in another top-25 matchup this season. Oregon must have done nothing but shoot the ball all day yesterday because the shooting slump Oregon found itself in on Friday was no more. Lead by sophomores Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard combined 46 points, the No. 8 Oregon Ducks remain undefeated at 6-0 in Pac-12 play with a 74-64 win over No. 18 Arizona State at Matthew Knight Arena.

"We shot it so well tonight," said Oregon coach Kelly Graves. "Arizona State is typically among the best in the conference and sometimes in the nation in field goal percentage defense. I just thought we were getting really good opportunities tonight. We concentrated on getting the ball inside more and were able to hit a few from three. We didn't shoot many of them I don't think but that was a good all-around game."

What it means: Two major points to highlight in this game. One: the Ducks had a 38-34 lead going into halftime and came out with an energetic, intense defensive effort holding Arizona State to a mere five points in the entire quarter. 

"We come out in every third quarter really well," said Ionescu. "I think we need to do that from the start and do that all four quarters. But I have faith. We come in at halftime and we regroup, we talk it out, our coaches get on us and it's kind of a time to just relax. The nerves are out and then we come back in that second half really dialed in and focused and do whatever we need to in order to win."

Two: Oregon let Arizona State back into the game in the fourth quarter. At the end of the third quarter, Oregon had a 59-39 lead. A comfortable 20-point lead that coach Graves warned his team that the Sun Devils would fight until the clock striked 0:00. A possible, minor area of concern seeing as the Ducks would get outscored 25-15 in the fourth quarter.

"We built a nice lead, we were playing so well, and then we jsut kind of slowly let them back in," said Graves. "You can't do that against a good team. Arizona State is really good and I remember at the 5:30 timeout... I said 'You guys, they will play hard until the buzzard', and the did."

High flying Ducks: Four Ducks finished with double-digit points: Ionescu with 26 points and Hebard's 20 points came from a perfect 9-of-9 from the field. Junior guard Maite Cazorla had a nice game finishing with 15 points (3-for-6 from three-point range) and five assists. The fourth Duck player was freshman forward Satou Sabally who finished with 10 points and two steals.

Foul Play: Both Hebard and junior forward Oti Gildon finished with three fouls each.

Up next: Oregon hits the road to face in-state rival Oregon State (13-4, 4-2 Pac-12) at 8 PM (PT) on Friday in Corvallis, OR.

Ducks bring their A-GAME but come up short to Arizona

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Ducks bring their A-GAME but come up short to Arizona

How Oregon lost: Every Ducks player to step onto the court today scored. An all-around team effort lead by redshirt senior Elijah Brown's 25 points (6-of-9 from three-point range) and redshirt senior Mikyle McIntosh's 20 points and seven rebounds, and the Ducks nearly come away from upsetting two top-25 teams on the road. But No. 17 Arizona's (14-1, 4-1 Pac-12) experience, along with future top NBA draft pick Deandre Ayton, was too much for these young Ducks as Oregon (12-6) drops to 2-3 in Pac-12 play with an 90-83 loss in Tuscon, AZ. 

What it means: A rocky, shaky start on the inside for Oregon. Arizona took advantage of its size down low with with not only a height advantage but also a size advantage. But in the final minutes in the first half, Oregon went on a 12-0 run on scrappy, energetic plays. A block by freshman Abu Kigab, layups from freshman Victor Bailey Jr. and senior Mikyle McIntosh, an Arizona offensive charge caused from sophomore guard Payton Pritchard, and being more aggressive on the boards, everyone was getting involved. 

The second half was more of the same story. Ducks bringing their A-game in all facets: McIntosh jumped over an Arizona player to get the block, Pritchard and senior Elijah Brown caught fire from three-point range, and just the overall energy from the first half seemed to carry over into the second. The Ducks had a response to most of what Arizona threw at them, but in the end, experience and Wildcats junior guard Allonzo Trier was too much to contain.

But what a turnaround for the Ducks in this past weekend alone. As the underdogs vs. both No. 11 Arizona State on thursday and No. 17 Arizona today, the Ducks showed major improvement in several areas to their game compared to the beginning of conference play. Looks like Dana Altman is maybe starting to put the pieces together as he typically does this time of the season. 

High flying Ducks: A complete team effort and every bit of it was needed. Lead by E. Brown's 25 points (6-of-9 from three-point range), Pritchard showed his leadership down the stretch, at just a sophomore, but proved to be an important assest as the only returing starter for Oregon from last season. He finished with 12 points and seven assists. McIntosh also had a nice game finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds.

Fou play: McIntosh fouled out of the game with 28 seconds left in the game. Junior Paul White also fouled out with 21 seconds left. Freshman Abu Kigab and Pritchard finished with four fouls, and freshman Kenny Wooten and sophomore forward Keith Smith finished with three.

Up next: The Ducks return home to host USC (12-6, 3-2 Pac-12) at 6 PM (PT) this Thursday.

Oregon turns up defensive heat; Arizona gets out of the kitchen

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Oregon turns up defensive heat; Arizona gets out of the kitchen

How Oregon won: It wasn't pretty, but the Ducks got it done. The Arizona Wildcats sat in a 2-3 defensive zone with a mix of other zone looks all night, forcing Oregon to take the outside shot. In Oregon coach Kelly Graves' words, "People are not very bright if they are going to zone us. Well, we got zoned tonight, they [Arizona] looked pretty smart for doing it." Meaning the Ducks are normally decent shooters, but tonight fell to a mere 38% field goal percentage on 21-of-55 shots. However, the Ducks' defensive pressure from start to finish, carried them all night as No. 8 Oregon (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) defeated Arizona (4-12, 0-5 Pac-12) 62-44 at Matthew Knight Arena.

"We couldn't possibly shoot worse," said Graves. "Seriously, 12-of-36 [from three-point range] and I don't think we took a bad three all night. Those are shots that we typically make."

The Ducks turned up their defensive pressure in the second half holding the Wildcats to just five points in the third quarter. Oregon also caused 15 turnovers and created 20 points off those turnovers. 

What it means: The Ducks improve to 5-0 in the Pac-12 and are now the only team undefeated in conference play. 

"We won the game, we're 5-0 I think for the first time in school history," said Graves. "That's something to be proud of... I thought defensively we were pretty on point when we needed to be. I thought that thrid quarter when the kids were challenged, we went out and they did a heck of a job. And even though we still weren't making shots, we were starting to build a lead because we were defending so well. Thats's two or three games in a row we've defended quite well, so I think we are getting better in that area."

If Oregon can maintain a consistent defense, that can travel on the road as well, the shots will eventually fall again. Despite an off-shooting night, sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu recorded a double-double 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead all scores.

High flying Ducks: Sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard finished with 14 points on 4-of-5 from the field (80%) and grabbed six rebounds. Junior guard Maite Cazorla and senior guard Lexi Bando finished with nine points each.

Foul play: Freshman Satou Sabally and Hebard finished with three fouls a piece.

Up next: Oregon hosts the No. 18 Arizona Sun Devils (13-4, 4-1 Pac-12) at 5 PM this Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena.

UPSET COMPLETE. Ducks put a fork in No. 11 ASU

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UPSET COMPLETE. Ducks put a fork in No. 11 ASU

How Oregon won: A big step in the right direction for Oregon. Two areas of concern coming out of last week's disappointing loss at Oregon State were ball movement and rebounding. Both took a step up tonight vs. Arizona State. Better ball movement lead to 17 team assists and therefore getting better open looks.The Ducks out-rebounded the Sun Devils 38 to 31 creating more second-chance opportunities off 15 offensive rebounds. The Ducks (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) went on a 14-2 run closing out the first half and carried that momentum into the second half closing out and completing the upset win over No. 11 Arizona State (13-3, 1-3 Pac-12) 76-72 in Tempe, AZ.

What it means: The Ducks' inside game did improve from last week at Oregon State. Whether that comes from senior forward Mikyle McIntosh, freshman Kenny Wooten, or senior Roman Sorkin, Oregon has the height inside and needs to use that to its advantage. The Ducks scored 38 total points in the paint. 

Oregon's ball movement allowed sophomore guard Payton Pritchard to finally get comfortable and hit his shot from three-point range. Pritchard finished with 18 points on 4-of-9 from the arc and dishing out six assists. 

High flying Ducks: Oregon's bench really stepped up with key with freshmen Kenny Wooten and Troy Brown Jr., each picking up two quick fouls. In Wooten's absense, senior forward Roman Sorkin stepped up off the bench finishing with 13 points and contributing from both three-point range and down low. Redshirt senior forward Mikyle McIntosh finished with a double-double 12 points and 13 rebounds. Senior Elijah Brown also finished with 18 points.

Foul play: Oregon committed 23 team fouls, although some calls were a tad questionable, the Ducks must clean that up. ASU shot 31 free throws total. Kenny Wooten had three first-half fouls, Troy Brown picked up two quick fouls and was forced to the bench early.

Up next: Oregon will remain on the road to face the No. 17 Arizona Wildcats (13-4, 3-1 Pac-12) at 11 AM this Saturday morning in Tuscon, AZ.

Mark Helfrich takes intriguing route toward reinvention with the Chicago Bears

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USA Today

Mark Helfrich takes intriguing route toward reinvention with the Chicago Bears

Mark Helfrich's move to the NFL as the Chicago Bears new offensive coordinator hit the sports world today like an unblocked, blindside blitz. 

Bam!

Where did that come from?

Helfrich waited 13 months before jumping back into the coaching world after Oregon fired him in 2016 following a 4-8 season just two years after he had guided the Ducks to the national title game. During his hiatus, according to some close to Helfrich, he received interest from several college teams about becoming their head coach or offensive coordinator. Repeatedly, however, Helfrich rejected inquiries while instead choosing to keep his family in Eugene, take time off from coaching, work in television and consider his future coaching options. 

Now he's back in the coaching game, taking his quarterback developing and offensive coordinating skills to the NFL to work for a team in desperate need of an offensive overhaul.

It's an interesting move for Helfrich and one that smacks of a man attempting to completely reinvent himself as a coach. It's a move that could pay off big time should he find success.

The easy move for Helfrich would have been to join former Oregon coach Chip Kelly at UCLA as the Bruins new offensive coordinator. Kelly hired Helfrich for the same position at Oregon in 2009 and the results were the greatest run of offensive production and victories in program history before it all came crashing down in 2016, four seasons after Kelly departed for the NFL. 

But taking that rout would have placed Helfrich right back under Kelly's shadow. Had they been successful, all of the credit still would have gone to Kelly just as it did while the two were at Oregon. 

By heading to the NFL, however, Helfrich is taking a swing for the fences at the highest level the sport has to offer.  Helfrich will still be in the shadows of an offensive-minded head coach in Matt Nagy, hired by the Bears this week away from Kansas City.

Nagy has said that he will call the plays in Chicago, as Kelly did for Oregon, which means that Helfrich's heavy lifting will be done during the week while game planning, offering play call suggestions during games and, maybe most importantly, assisting in the development of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

The irony here, of course, is that one of the more amusing takes from Helfrich haters has been that he failed to develop a quarterback while riding the coattails of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota to success for two years post Kelly. Of course, that's a complete contradiction given that Helfrich recruited and developed Mariota.  Helfrich also coached and developed Jeremiah Masoli and Darron Thomas, and he recruited, developed and coached Bryan Bennett and Justin Herbert. 

In the end, Helfrich's starters at Oregon were Masoli, Thomas, Mariota, Vernon Adams, Dakota Prukop and Herbert, a certain future NFL draft pick. That's one hell of a run for any coach, and it's one that current coach Mario Cristobal will be fortunate to duplicate, providing he remains at Oregon long enough to do so.  

But, because Jeff Lockie and Morgan Mahalak didn't work out, Helfrich has somehow labeled by some as having been a failure at developing quarterbacks. 

All of this nonsense also ignores the fact that long ago, while Helfrich was the quarterbacks coach at Boise State, he helped Bart Hendricks earn Big West Conference player of the year in 1999 and 2000. Later, Helfrich coached quarterbacks at Arizona State where he helped Andrew Walter set numerous ASU and Pac-12 record, and become a third-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. 

Both stints were under coach Dirk Koetter, a former Oregon offensive coordinator and the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach (more on that connection later).

In 2006, at the age of 32, Helfrich became the youngest offensive coordinator in the nation at Colorado. That run led to Kelly hiring him at Oregon in order to add Helfrich's pro-style acumen to Kelly's spread attack. 

Now Helfrich finds himself in the NFL as an offensive coordinator. The reality is this: Should he succeed in developing Trubisky and help Nagy turnaround the Bears' offense, Helfrich would then be in position to work his way toward becoming a head coach in the NFL. 

That's typically how these things work. The NFL is all about connections. Helfrich has a few, including Koetter. 

But, at the end of the day, Helfrich must produce. He must develop Trubisky. He must help Chicago's offense rise from its 2017 ranking of 30th in the NFL. Chances are that he will do just that. The guy can coach. He proved as much by going 33-8 over three seasons before that disastrous 2016 mess. He's also proven, despite inane beliefs to the contrary, that he can develop quarterbacks. 

Should Helfrich work that magic again, he could be will on his way to far bigger and better things than Oregon football. 

Helfrich hired as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator

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Helfrich hired as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator

Former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is headed to the NFL. The Chicago Bears have hired Helfrich to be offensive coordinator, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. 

Helfrich will be coaching two of his former Oregon players, offensive linemen Kyle Long and Hroniss Grasu. 

"Beyond excited and thrilled to be working with Coach Helf again," said Grasu. "Love the guy and his family. We are very fortunate to have him."

Helfrich was the offensive coordinator of the Ducks from 2009-2012 and moved into the head coaching spot after Chip Kelly left for the Eagles. He won 33 games in his first three seasons and went to a national title game before being fired after going 4-8 during the 2016 season.

It was rumored that Kelly offered the UCLA offensive coordinator job to Helfrich. 

Jordon Scott named to freshman All-America team

Jordon Scott named to freshman All-America team

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon defensive lineman Jordon Scott has been named to the 17th annual Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team.

 

Scott (Largo, Fla. / Pinellas Park HS) finished his freshman season with 34 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks while starting 11 of Oregon’s 13 games. He had a season-high five tackles at Washington earning a spot on that week’s Pro Football Focus All-Pac-12 Team. Scott had multiple tackles in 11 games, including the last 10.

 

Scott, who was previously named the 247Sports True Freshman All-America Team, is the eighth Oregon player to be named to a FWAA Freshman All-America Team. He joins Haloti Ngata (2002), LaMichael James (2009), John Boyett (2009), De’Anthony Thomas (2011), Tyler Johnstone (2012), Royce Freeman (20014) and Troy Dye (2015).

 

BEAT L.A.! BEAT L.A.! No. 9 Oregon brings the heat to No. 14 UCLA

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BEAT L.A.! BEAT L.A.! No. 9 Oregon brings the heat to No. 14 UCLA

How Oregon won: The Ducks defense held UCLA's fast-paced offense scoreless until the 3:22 mark in the first quarter. But that shut-down defense ended quickly with the Bruins offense finally settling in. This was a back-and-forth battle until the very end. With one minute remaining and the score 60-59 Ducks, sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu drove hard to the hoop and whipped an on-target pass right into the hands of the senior three-point shooter Lexi Bando. Nothing but net. Ducks went up 63-59. A few defensive stops and clutch rebounds later, and the No. 9 Ducks bring the heat to No. 14 UCLA with a 70-61 win in Los Angeles.

It comes down to how you finish games. The Ducks did just that. Despite a poor first-half finish and low energy coming out of halftime, Oregon went on a 12-0 run over the final minutes to close out a tough road opponent. This was the first time ever that Oregon swept both USC and UCLA in the same weekend. 

What it means: 12 turnovers and 11 fouls all in the first half could have been detrimental for the Ducks, but UCLA's 26% field goal percentage and 0-for-5 from three-point range in the first half, is what luckily gave Oregon a 27-23 lead going into halftime. This game could have looked a lot different if UCLA hadn't struggled under the hoop, missing layups and rebound put-backs.

On a positive note, the fact that Oregon could come into a ranked UCLA opponent, being on the road, facing an energetic Bruins crowd, with a win and in dominant closing fashion, will give the Ducks momentum heading into next weekend hosting Arizona and No. 25 Arizona State.

High flying Ducks: Ionescu had a quiet three points in the first half, but came alive in the second half finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Ruthy Hebard lead all Oregon scores with 19 points and added seven rebounds. But who really was the "It Factor" for the Ducks, was the leadership and ball control of junior guard Maite Carzola who finished with 17 points, most of which came from her aggressivenss in getting the to hoop.

Foul play: Freshman guard Anneli Maley fouled out with 3:10 remaining in the game. Carzola finished with four fouls. Ionescu, Hebard, and Sabally finished with three fouls each.

Up next: Oregon returns home to host Arizona (4-11, 0-4 Pac-12) at 8 PM this Friday at Matthew Knight Arena.