UCLA Bruins

Josh Rosen: You think college athletes have it tougher than the rest of the student body?

Josh Rosen: You think college athletes have it tougher than the rest of the student body?

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen made headlines this week with some remarks he made about academics and football -- and how they don't mesh very well. He got a lot of attention for an off-hand thought he had about raising the SAT requirements to get into Alabama but that statement was taken out of context.

But I have a problem with some of the other things he said, which to me came off as naive or insensitive about others trying to get through college without the benefit of a football scholarship:

Look, football and school don't go together. They just don't. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they're here because this is the path to the NFL. There's no other way.

No one in their right mind should have a football player's schedule, and go to school. It's not that some players shouldn't be in school; it's just that universities should help them more—instead of just finding ways to keep them eligible.

Any time any player puts into school will take away from the time they could put into football. They don't realize that they're getting screwed until it's too late. You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they're more interested in helping you stay eligible. At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There's so much money being made in this sport. It's a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.

Pardon me if I'm not feeling all that sorry for these guys. I worked my way through school. So did my brother. And we had it easy. We had parents in a position to give us a little help. But what about that single mom with two kids working in a restaurant or clothing store trying to get through college? What about that young guy working eight hours of construction all day and then trying to put together enough night-school hours to get a degree? Or how about the kid who isn't working now but will be grinding for the next 20 years paying off that $100,000 student loan?

And those people aren't getting the "help" (tutors, advisers, etc..) that those football players are getting.

I understand the whole idea of big-time college sports generating a lot of revenue that never trickles down to the players. But I also see a whole lot of athletes -- including the ones who are in college ONLY as a path to the pros -- who place no value whatsoever on that college education. The athletes are often the rare ones leaving school without major unpaid loans hanging over their heads.

Let's talk about UCLA, where Rosen goes.

It's estimated that the cost of attending UCLA for just one year -- for a California resident -- is $34,056. For a non-resident it's $60,738. PER YEAR. So please, spare me all the talk about athletes not being paid for their athletic participation. They are being given something of great value, whether they realize it or not. Do they have to work for their scholarships? Of course, but maybe no longer or no harder than you or me or, more appropriately, our children did at jobs not quite as glamorous as playing college football or basketball.

There's nobody there to give you a standing ovation when you leave that janitor job every night on the way to night school. And certainly you're never going to be the Big Man (or Woman) On Campus -- with all the perks that go with it -- while slinging bento at a local food cart.

Spare me, Mr. Rosen. You and your teammates don't really have it so tough.

It's No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 7 Arizona in Pac-12 Tournament championship game

It's No. 5 Oregon vs. No. 7 Arizona in Pac-12 Tournament championship game

LAS VEGAS - The No. 5 Oregon Ducks will face No. 7 Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament title game at 8 p.m., Saturday.

The Wildcats advanced after defeating No. 3 UCLA, 86-75 on Friday night.

Oregon (29-4) advanced to the championship game by defeating California, 73-65 in the first game of the evening at T-Mobile Arena. A tournament record crowd of 19,224, mostly Arizona fans, was announced following the Wildcats' win.

Freshman forward Lauri Markkanen led the Wildcats with 29 points and six rebounds. UCLA guard Lonzo Ball scored just eight points on 2-of-7 shooting.  

Tournament No. 1-seed Oregon and No. 2-seeded Arizona (29-4) split the conference regular season championship, but the Ducks earned the top seed in the tournament because of their 85-58 win over the Wildcats at home on Feb. 4. 

Oregon dominated by shooting 65.4 percent from the field and holding Arizona to 42.6 percent shooting. 

Arizona, however, had a chance to claim the outright regular season championship before losing 77-72 at home to UCLA (29-4) on Feb. 25. 

The Wildcats exacted their revenge on the Bruins Friday night. Now Arizona will look to do the same to the Ducks, who are not quite as dominant away from Matthew Knight Arena. 

T-Mobile will be filled with fans wearing Arizona red making the contest a potentially daunting one for these Ducks. 

Round two goes to UCLA. No. 10 Bruins defeat No. 5 Oregon 82-79.

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Round two goes to UCLA. No. 10 Bruins defeat No. 5 Oregon 82-79.

How Oregon lost: The No. 10 Ducks brought their hot-shooing last Saturday vs. Arizona to Los Angeles Friday night at Pauley Pavilion. At least in the first half. Unfortunately for Oregon, college basketball is a 40-minute game.

Oregon (21-4, 10-2 Pac-12) fell short with a 82-79 loss at No. 10 UCLA (22-3, 9-3 Pac-12).

Early, it seemed as though Oregon had this one in the bag and would get two wins this season over conference rival UCLA. Then things changed quickly.

In the highly-anticipated rematch, the Ducks knew that this was going to be a revenge game for the Bruins. The last time these two schools met ended with a Dillon Brooks game-winning three with .08 left on the clock. This time, the fairytale ending went UCLA's way.

The Ducks jumped out to a 37-18 lead in the first half by controlling the tempo of the game. Freshman guard Payton Pritchard, sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, junior guard Casey Benson and even junior forward Jordan Bell pushed the pace, trying to catch the Bruins on their heels. As soon as that 19-point lead got comfortable, so did the Ducks.

UCLA went on an 14-0 run during which the Ducks committed their first turnover of the game. Oregon's game is at its best when it controls the pace. But alas, UCLA continued to fight and limited the Ducks lead to just nine points, 48-39 at halftime. 

This lead was short-lived. The Bruins keep fighting and fighting and found the hot hands of their playmakers. UCLA turned up the pace behind freshman guard Lonzo Ball's double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.

UCLA took its first lead of the game at 72-70 with 4:01 remaining off a three-pointer from sophomore guard Aaron Holiday. The Bruins crowd went wild. UCLA's defense repeatedly forced the Ducks into bad shots with the shot clock winding down, which opened the door for Ball to take over. Oregon had no match for Ball. 

But ultimately, it was missed free throws, a lack of energy in the second, and their inability to handle the Bruins strong defensive pressure that lead to this three point loss for the Ducks. 

What it means: Who knows how this loss will impact the rankings nationally or the race for the Pac-12 regular season championship. The Ducks, who have two conference defeats (Colorado and UCLA). Every game matters more than the last for Oregon. This may have been the toughest road game the Ducks will have this season, and Oregon did not pass the test tonight. Of the final six games for the Ducks, four will come on the road. The Ducks cannot afford to be a different team on the road than they are at home. Yes, home court advantage is huge, but the Ducks must bring the same energy on the road.

Key sequence: Oregon got everyone involved early on. All five starters for the Ducks, Pritchard, Dylan Ennis, Dorsey, Brooks, and Bell, scored within the first five minutes. It looked to be a long game for UCLA, but this was far from over and Oregon's 19-point lead slowly diminished. 

High flying Ducks: Brooks and Dorsey lead all scores with 19 points each. Brooks added three rebounds and two assists. Pritchard added 13 points, and Bell finished with nine points and 15 rebounds. 

Fowl play: Pritchard picked up four fouls, most of which were called on reaching. 

Up next: The Ducks stay in California to take on USC (20-4, 7-4 Pac-12) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Galen Center.

No. 5 Oregon in need of a big road win tonight at No. 10 UCLA

No. 5 Oregon in need of a big road win tonight at No. 10 UCLA

As impressive as No. 5 Oregon's season has been to date there is one element missing: an impressive road victory.

The Ducks (21-3, 10-1 Pac-12) venture into Pauley Pavilion at 7 p.m. tonight to face No. 10 UCLA (21-3, 8-3) in a game that could accomplish two goals for Oregon:

1. Put a death grip on the Pac-12 regular season championship race.

2. Add a big road victory to the team's résumé. 

On the negative side, a loss would make the final stretch of the regular season for Oregon rather dicey with four of the final six games coming on the road.

"We know on the road it's a lot tougher," senior forward Chris Boucher said. "But if we stay together we know that if we can do amazing things."

All of Oregon's victories against the conference powerhouses (UCLA, Arizona, California and USC) have come at Matthew Knight Arena where the Ducks have a nation-leading 40-game home winning streak.

The Ducks' most impressive road win to date is a 73-67 victory at sixth-place Utah (15-8, 6-5) on Jan. 26.  The Ducks followed that up by losing 74-65 at tenth-place Colorado (13-11, 3-8) and then last Thursday struggled with ninth-place Arizona State (11-14, 4-8), avoiding disaster by pulling out a 71-70 victory at home.

Oregon can't play like it did at Colorado or against ASU and expect to win against a revenge-minded UCLA that is in a must-win situation to remain alive in the race for the regular season championship. Nor can Oregon expect to go deep into the NCAA Tournament without passing some tough road tests.  

"We've just got to stay locked in," senior guard Dylan Ennis said. "Got to stay focused. We can't get comfortable."

Ennis said that team did become a bit comfortable after winning 17 consecutive games leading up to the loss at Colorado. Included in that winning streak was a dramatic, 89-87 win at home over the Bruins that ended on a Dillon Brooks three-pointer at the buzzer.

"I think we've gotten better since then," Boucher said. "We learned a lot from that game. When we've got a lead we've got to keep it. I think now we're playing more together."

Oregon never played more together than it did on Saturday during an 85-58 win over No. 9 Arizona (22-3, 11-1). The Ducks went bonkers, shooting 65.2 percent from the field and 64 percent (16 of 25) from three-point range. Oregon had 26 assists on 30 field goals. The greatness that day didn't stop there.

"What won it for us was our defense," Ennis said.

Oregon held Arizona to 42.6 percent shooting and forced 13 turnovers that led to 30 points off turnovers. That effort enabled the Ducks to extend an early lead rather than blow it as they did against the Bruins before pulling out the win. 

The Ducks will need all of the defense it can muster against the Bruins, who lead the Pac-12 in scoring (92.9 points per game), field goal percentage (53.5), three-point shooting (42.4) and assists per game (22). 

"On the defensive end if we could stop (UCLA), we'll be fine," Ennis said.

Helping with that will be improved team positivity.

"I think now we're more positive because we know what each other is going to do," Ennis said. "We know how to talk to each other a lot better, and I think our positivity helps our game on the court because everybody is encouraging somebody, if somebody falls the whole team is going to pick them up."

Dillon Brooks and No. 21 Oregon hit on a winner against No. 2 UCLA

Dillon Brooks and No. 21 Oregon hit on a winner against No. 2 UCLA

EUGENE - The scene Wednesday night at Matthew Knight Arena would have been much different than the pandemonium that took place had Oregon forward Dillon Brooks' three-point shot with 0.8 seconds remaining not been true rather than swished to give the No. 21 Ducks an 89-87 win over No. 2 UCLA.

Faces would have been long. Hearts would have been broken. Yet, what would have still been as real in defeat as it was in victory is that the Ducks played arguably their best basketball of the season against the best competition they have faced to date, raising the belief that this team could certainly be championship-caliber after all. 

That, in the end, was more important than the win that could have easily been a loss with an inch or two to the left or right on Brooks' shot. 

These were the Ducks we've been waiting to see. A versatile and exciting group that has Final Four potential. Not the floundering team that got blown out at No. 4 Baylor and looked lethargic during many of its wins against lesser competition. 

"We're still a work in progress," UO coach Dana Altman said. "We needed something to happen. This was a good win."

The team's play, and the victory that extended the Ducks' home winning streak to 34 games, should pay dividends on many fronts, starting, but not ending with the play of Brooks, the team's heart and soul who must be that dude on a nightly basis for this team to excel. 

But let's start with the Ducks looking like an elite level team capable of contending for a Final Four berth, an expectation that had Oregon ranked in the top five to start the season. 

Altman all season had been calling for his team to improve its ball movement and play with greater efficiency. The Ducks (12-2, 1-0 Pac-12) did that with 19 assists on 30 field goals. Oregon certainly didn't always shoot well (the Ducks made 7 of 14 three-point attempts in the first half and just 4 of 16 in the second half) but the team rarely took poor shots while committing just nine turnovers compared to the team's average of 13.6 per contest.

Always the coach, Altman still found the negatives, but did admit that the team certainly looked stronger. 

"Offensively we're still way behind those guys," he said of UCLA, which leads the Pac-12 in scoring, shooting and assists. "We have a tremendous amount of work to do with our execution on the offensive end."

The other byproduct of this game is how the team didn't fold when everything went south in the second half. Oregon played lights out in the first half but led just 52-47. UCLA (13-1, 0-1) somewhat played possum waiting for the moment to strike. They did just that going on a big run in the second half to take an 80-72 lead with 3:53 remaining.

Altman said the way his team fought back from that moment on made him the most proud. 

"It would have been really easy for us to give in to it," Altman said of UCLA's momentum at that point.

The Ducks did not. Instead, they kept finding the resolve to claw back and eventually broke through. 

"We're going to fight from the first 20 minutes to the last 20 minutes," Brooks said. 

That brings us back to Brooks. Altman said he was happy for his entire team but mostly for Brooks, who he said has had a rough five months dating back to when he injured his foot during a team trip to play in Spain. He missed the team's first three games, returned for a loss at Georgetown, and had been on a minutes restriction all season, even when he made his first start against UNLV on Dec. 17.

Trainers, Altman said, recently gave Brooks the go ahead to come off his minutes restriction and tonight he delivered his best game of the season with 23 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes.

Brooks attacked the basket without fear, converting on several plays inside. He crashed the boards. He launched eight threes... 

Well, that last part didn't turn out too well. He made just two.

"My team kept me positive, coaches kept me positive," Brooks said. 

That led to him making the three-point shot that mattered most.  

"For him to hit that shot after struggling here, it was good for him," Altman said. 

Brooks said he had no qualms about taking the three, which came after UCLAs Bryce Alford (20 points) missed a free throw. Brooks got the rebound, gave the ball to freshman point guard Payton Pritchard, and then got it back at the other end. Brooks ran straight to the three-point line and launched. 

"I was shooting it bad but I always say, 'shoot it like it's your last shot,'" Brooks said. 

Altman, ever the coach, joked that Brooks had time to take the ball to the basket, but added "who could argue" with his best player's decision in the end. 

"Nice to see him healthy and enjoying the game," Altman said. 

There's no rest for the elated. No. 22 USC comes to Matthew Knight Arena on Friday. No. 18 Arizona comes to town on Feb. 4. UCLA looms again on Feb. 9.

"They are the team to beat," Altman said of the Bruins. "We won a home game by two points. You're supposed to win at home. With their explosiveness, I still think they are the team to beat."

Wednesday night's game will be remembered for years as the one where Brooks hit that deep shot to win it. But maybe more importantly, for this team's goals this season, this night should be remembered as the night the Ducks finally started playing like a national title contender.

"We're feeling good," Brooks said. "Now we know we can do it. We can do it every time. Coach knows we can do it. Now we have to do it every single game."

No. 22 Oregon's Boucher a game time decision vs. No. 2 UCLA

No. 22 Oregon's Boucher a game time decision vs. No. 2 UCLA

Maybe one day this season No. 22 Oregon will be at full strength. That day likely won't come tomorrow night against No. 2 UCLA. 

The Ducks, who got forward Dillon Brooks (foot) back into the starting lineup for the first time on Dec. 17 against UNLV, could see senior forward Chirs Boucher (ankle) miss his third game when Oregon's hosts its much-anticipated showdown against No. 2 UCLA at 6 p.m., Wednesday at Matthew Knight Arena

"It'll be a game time decision," UO coach Dana Atlman told reporters today.

Boucher has been out since he suffered a high ankle sprain during practice just two days prior to UO's 83-63 win over UNLV at Portland's Moda Center. Oregon has survived quite well with Brooks and Boucher missing time, and in the case of Brooks, playing sparingly as he worked his way back to full strength. 

But the Ducks (11-2) can ill afford to be shorthanded against UCLA (13-0), especially at the defensive end, where Boucher excells. 

UCLA's offense is someting to behold. The Bruins lead the nation in assists per game (23.6) and field goal percentage (55 percent) while ranking second in scoring (95.8 points per game). UCLA's 12.4 turnovers per game are third fewest in the Pac-12 and its 42.8 percent shooting from three-point range ranks second in the conference. 

"They have the most efficient offense right now," UO sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey told reporters today before practice. "They've got it going on."

Oregon's offense has been anything but ordinary. Nevertheless, the Ducks offense has not reached the levels it needs to for UO to be a legitimate national title contender. Where the Ducks have been quite good is on defense, allowing 63.2 points per game and just 37.3 percent shooting.

Boucher is a big part of that effort. He leads the conference with 3.2 blocked shorts per game, and at 6-foot-10 with a seemingly infinate wing span, he alters far more shots than he blocks. 

Boucher very well could play tomorrow. Atlman has seen him rise up from an injury before. 

"Chris is a tough young man," Altman said. "He played last year with an ankle that didn't feel well. So I know he'll give it a try, But, how mobile he is, how well he can play, I'm not sure."

The question is, how effective will Boucher be if he is less than 100 percent? Altman said Boucher did not do anything full-court on Monday and hoped he could do more today. 

"And then hopefully, a little bit better tomorrow," Altman said. "But he has not worked out a lot in the last 10 days."

A limited, or absent Boucher, means the rest of UO's defense must pick up the slack, or Oregon's defense had better be ready to put up close to 90 points to have a chance to win. 

"Their ball movement is so good that they don't get a lot of contested shots," Altman said. 

Oregon must do the same. Altman has lamented all season that the Ducks have not been as effiecient as he would like at moving the ball to create better shots. Oregon ranks a distant second in the Pac-12 behind UCLA in assists per game (16.2). 

If UCLA gets rolling on offense, UO might have a tough time keeping pace. 

"It's mostly going to come down to not letting them explode, getting a lead out on us," Dorsey said. 

Boucher would help at both ends in that regard. 

"Chris is a big part of our defense, there is no doubt about that." Altman said. "It's a big hole to fill if he's not able to go."

Boucher would be a big help against UCLA's 6-10 freshman forward T.J. Leaf, who leads the conference in field goal percentage (65.5) while averaging 17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds. He's also made 15 of 30 three-point attempts.

UO junior forward Jordan Bell, averaging 2.5 blocks per game, knows Leaf well having played AAU basketball with him in high school. Bell said he isn't suprised by Leaf's success. 

"He's always been a great basketball player...," Bell told reporters. "I've been watching him since high school...I'm used to seeing him kill." 

Note: Oregon will host No. 22 USC (13-0) at 7 p.m. on Friday. 

Andersen, Beavers turn attention to UCLA

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Andersen, Beavers turn attention to UCLA

The Beavers went down Palo Alto with hight hopes, but ended up dropping their fourth straight game with a 21-15 loss to Stanford. Now the Beavers turn their attention to the UCLA Bruins, also losers of four straigth, with hope of grabbing another win as the season comes closer to the end. Can the Beavers pull the upset? We will find out on Saturday. Until then, hear what Coach Andersen had to say in his weekly press conference as he gets his team prepared for kickoff.  #GoBeavs 

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FACEBOOK LIVE: Videos from Pac-12 Media Days

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