Let's get inside how Oregon got past UCLA on Saturday. UCLA led by as many as six points, yet Oregon won 76-67 on a 14-6 run, and here is how the Ducks pulled if off.
1. Oregon is using a big lineup to its advantage: By big I mean Dominic Artis at the point, E.J. Singler and Carlos Emory at the wings, Arslan Kezemi and Tony Woods inside. While other lineups were effective for Oregon, their game plan was pretty obvious with this group as they crushed UCLA on the boards.
2. The Ducks limited Muhammad in the second half: While Shabazz Muhamed scored six straight points at the end of the first half, he struggled to find a flow in the second. He did not start the game because he was late to practice Friday and he never truly looked comfortable against Oregon's changing defenses. Oregon matched up like-sized athletes against Muhammad: Kazemi, Singler, and Emery. Muhammad was scouted well: He was not able to post vs. Oregon, drives to his left were taken away and the Ducks attacked him on the offensive glass as he left the defensive end early, looking for early offense.
3. Side ball screens: Oregon used more side ball screens than usual, because UCLA over hedges on pick and rolls -- and the Ducks hit Tony Woods on several rolls. Woods, who was sick and nearly didn't play, had a career high 18 points. It also should be noted that for the first time UCLA missed Josh Smith -- the loss of Smith put Travis Wear on Woods, and Woods is just so much bigger than either of the Wear twins.
4. Oregon's press: The press turned UCLA over two consecutive times in the second half and it sped UCLA up on offense as Muhammad, Jordan Adams and David Wear took untimely shots in succession as Oregon took the lead. UCLA had been very unselfish through their 10-game winning streak, but the Bruins reverted by taking quick shots instead of running their offense.
5. Rebounding dominance: Oregon beat up UCLA on the glass. Statistically, Kyle Anderson is a good rebounder, but he really got pushed around by the grown men inside for Oregon. Travis Wear has had a terrific year, but he didn't have a single rebound and Oregon had 12 offensive boards while surviving 10 second-half turnovers. UCLA has been able to spread people out by playing a smaller lineup. Neither Wear twin is a center, but both are effective on offense at the 5-spot as face-up shooters. Anderson has become a point power forward, and Shabazz has been able to be more effective at the wing recently. But Oregon has several forwards who can cover out on the floor, negating those UCLA facets on offense.
Five things looking forward
1. Kyle Anderson continues to improve on offense: He's still a step slow, but his ball handling and ability to take up the space created by teams playing off him is exceptional. If Anderson changes his body in the weight room and stays in school for at least another year, he is a better pro prospect than Muhammad, who can be more dominant now, but simply is not a guard.
2. Larry Drew misses too many easy layups: He did hit some shots late and maybe that carries over, but Drew's lack of confidence in his offense can be alarming. Drew's handle is exceptional, but he takes needless chances on defense and he over-dribbles at times on the other end. But when he's on the bench, UCLA has no true guards; it struggles with defensive balance and getting into its offense.
3. Damyean Dotson is going to be an amazing Duck: The freshman has led Oregon in scoring and played with zero fear on the road. He is long, very athletic and and improving shooter.
4. More Carter for Oregon: Dana Altman told me he really wants to play Ben Carter more, but his veterans are just so road tested, he feels like he would be forcing something, since he knows Carter is a stud for the future. Carter was Muhammad's high school teammate at (Las Vegas) Bishop Gorman.
5. Look for more from Singler: Singler scored a huge pull-up 3 before the half, cutting UCLA's lead to 3. It was a fairly simple set to have him come off a double screen for the 3, but his pump fake and one dribble trey stifled the crowd and Oregon regained its confidence for the second half. Singler was injured in the preseason and is just now getting back to end of last year form.