Destiny No Longer in Control for Oregon Ducks

A statement was made after a three-point barrage by the Oregon Ducks left the Arizona Wildcats searching for answers. Oregon’s 85-58 victory over Arizona gave the team sole possession of first place in the Pac-12. This past weekend, an emotional victory fell to the wayside down in Los Angeles.

UCLA was waiting for Oregon at Pauley Pavilion with revenge on their minds. Circle back to the Pac-12 opener when the two met in Eugene in what became an instant classic. With time winding down, Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, with ice in his veins, delivered the game-winner to hand UCLA their first loss of the season. Since the loss, UCLA has suffered two additional losses to rival USC and Arizona.

(Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP)

Bruins’ star freshman Lonzo Ball did not have a strong performance in Eugene but made enough of an impact give the Ducks a scare. With home court advantage this time in the rematch, Ball was looking to make an impact. A sellout crowd was on hand as American sportscaster Dick Enberg was honored at halftime. Students wore shirts with Enberg’s signature catchphrase “Oh My” printed on the front.

But before the fanfare, the Ducks had crashed the party in the first half. Oregon built a 19-point lead as the team found their rhythm right from the start. Los Angeles native Tyler Dorsey shined in the first half with 12 points. Despite UCLA going on a 14-0 run late in the first half, Dorsey stopped the bleeding and Oregon led 48-39 at halftime.

Despite Oregon coming out strong to start the second half, UCLA slowly began to build momentum. The turning point came when the Ducks’ shooting went cold from the floor. Poor shooting and a 34-26 advantage on points in the paint the second half tilted the game for the Bruins. Ball delivered the dagger with a Stephen Curry type layup to send Pauley Pavilion into a frenzy.

Oregon had a chance to send the game into overtime, but Brooks’ attempt bounced off the rim and time expired. In a Top-10 matchup, UCLA prevailed at home with an 82-79 win over Oregon. Ball showed up with the game on the line and contributed 15 points. A significant factor in UCLA coming away with the win was a 20-6 rebound advantage in the second half.

(Photo: Scott Olmos, USA TODAY Sports)

Dorsey had a quiet, but an efficient game, finishing with 19 points along with teammate Brooks. Despite a strong beginning, Oregon handed UCLA the game in the second half. Mental mistakes and losing the rebound battle as UCLA wore Oregon down throughout the second half. The loss took Oregon from controlling destiny in the Pac-12 as Arizona swept Stanford and California at home.

Destiny may no longer be with Oregon, but the team cannot let the loss deter championship aspirations. Oregon rebounded Saturday evening with an 81-70 victory at USC to salvage the road trip. Even with the loss to UCLA, Oregon only dropped two spots to No.7 in the Associated Press Pool.

With five games left in the season, Oregon’s schedule is favorable over Arizona’s. The only roadblock comes when Oregon travels to face Cal and Stanford on the road. Last season, the Bay Area teams swept the Ducks. For now, Oregon must take one game at a time as Utah, and Colorado comes to Eugene this week. Contests against Utah and Colorado conclude the regular season at home for Oregon.

Oregon has been flying since the win over Arizona. The performance was long overdue from head coach Dana Altman’s side looking to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. All players appeared to have chemistry with each other and have no intentions of stopping. Brooks’ recent performances have his draft stock rising as he will indeed declare for the NBA Draft after the season.

No matter the outcome of the Pac-12 regular season, Oregon will make their statement in the Pac-12 Tournament. Oregon has yet to unleash their full potential which will likely come for the big show. Destiny may be out of the Ducks’ control for the Pac-12 regular season title, but destiny for a NCAA Championship is still within reach.

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