Oregon hasn’t lost to UCLA at home since 2014. Can the Ducks make a stand and keep the streak alive?
Records: Oregon (9-5, 0-1 Pac-12), UCLA (9-6, 2-0)
Wounded Ducks: Oregon is down to only eight scholarship players this weekend with the loss of Bol Bol (season ending injury), Abu Kigab (transfer) and Kenny Wooten (broken jaw, returning in 2-4 weeks). The trio of Bol, Kigab and Wooten combined an average 30.2 points, 17.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game.
Record Watch: Junior guard Payton Pritchard comes into the UCLA game needing 15 points to reach 1,000 in his career.
Fun Fact: Oregon has had double digit steals in back-to-back games, including a season-high 14 at Boise State on Dec. 29.
High Flying Ducks:
A lot has changed since Oregon was picked as preseason favorites to win the Pac-12 Conference. Now, without their leading scorer, top two rebounders and top two shot blockers, coach Dana Altman must return to the drawing board.
Oregon's tentative starting lineup is: redshirt-senior forward Paul White, freshman forward Francis Okoro, freshman guard Louis King, junior guard Payton Pritchard and sophomore guard Victor Bailey Jr.
In Oregon’s last game, King, a five-star recruit, lead the team on both sides of the ball. The freshman reached his first career double-double and established a new season-high 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Altman said his team will rely on freshmen forwards Miles Norris and Okoro to play more while Pritchard and White will have to elevate their game.
White has risen to the occasion and in the last five games, he leads the Ducks in scoring, averaging 12.0 points per game. He also scored in double figures in four of five games, including a season-high 15 points vs. Oregon State.
Could Wooten be back sooner than expected? “Getting fitted for a face mask,” Wooten posted on Twitter on Monday. “Trying to get back as soon as possible!”
Altman initially indicated that Wooten will likely be out another two to four weeks.
Bruins to keep an eye on:
UCLA had at least five players score in double figures in each of the past two wins over Stanford (7-7, 0-2 Pac-12) and California (5-9, 0-2 Pac-12). The Bruins have improved in Pac-12 play with much thanks to hot games from Moses Brown (averaged 16.5 points, 9.5 rebounds in the two victories, shooting 78.9 percent) and Kris Wilkes (16.0 points and 4.5 rebounds).
Oregon will need to find an answer for sophomore 6-foot-8 guard Wilkes, who has scored in double figures in all 15 games this season.
Not to be overlooked, sophomore Jaylen Hands continues to lead all Pac-12 players in total assists (103) and assists per game (6.9).
In case you missed it, Murry Bartow currently serves as UCLA's interim head coach, as Steve Alford was relieved of his head coaching duties on Dec. 31, 2018.
Key to victory
The Ducks have a lot to work on: rebounding, ball movement, communication on defense… but their flat first half problem needs to be fixed STAT.
Oregon has trailed by at least 11 points at halftime in four of its five losses: Iowa, Houston, Baylor and Oregon State. The deficits have been too large for Oregon to come back to win, despite outscoring each opponent in the second half.
Altman half-laughed as he suggested the Ducks needs to change their pre-game warm ups.
“That has been our MO, we don’t play very well in the first half and get down,” Altman said. “We get down and we try to come back in the second half.”
Starting fast is the number one key to victory to beat UCLA.
How and where to watch
Time: Thursday, Jan. 10, 6 p.m
Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, Oregon
TV: Pac-12 Network