Oregon survives challenge from short-handed UCLA in double overtime
When UCLA announced that leading scorers Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson were suspended for Thursday night's game due to violation of team rules, an impromptu debate broke out as to what that meant for the bubble-riding Ducks. Oregon was desperately in need of a statement win, but would beating an undermanned UCLA team still qualify? At the same time, isn't it better to beat the Bruins without their two best players than lose to them with those players?
One thing was for certain. Losing to them without Adams and Anderson would be the worst outcome. And that's nearly what happened.
Trailing by four with fewer than 10 seconds left, UCLA's Bryce Alford, pressed into starting duty with Adams and Anderson suspended, hit a triple with a defender in his face for three of his career-high 31 points. Joseph Young made his first free throw on purpose, then the second one by accident, affording UCLA the luxury of inbounding the ball as opposed to forcing a full-court prayer. That's when David Wear did the crazy thing in the video above.
The two teams then turned in one of the ugliest overtimes in recent memory, with each scoring two points. Oregon committed two shot-clock violations, while UCLA failed to make a field goal. About halfway through the second overtime, Young broke the tie with a three that put Oregon up 78-75. The Ducks knocked down seven of their eight free throw attempts down the stretch to put the game on ice and win 87-83.
Oregon kept its tourney hopes alive with the win, moving to 2-6 against the RPI top 50. The question remains, though: How much does a win over UCLA without its two best players actually bolster Oregon's chances, especially given that they nearly gave the game away? The committee will likely remember that Oregon didn't beat a full-strength UCLA squad, but it's still a road win over a team ranked 15th in RPI and 14th according to KenPom on the resume. Even so, Oregon would do well to not rest on its laurels, and it has two chances for wins over teams that are tourney bound next week when it hosts Arizona State and Arizona. (H/T Rob Dauster for the video)