After a close, back and forth game for much of the early going, the Ducks went arctic. A bucket by Oregon's Luke Jackson put the Ducks (6-3, 1-1) up 25-23 with just under eight minutes to play in the first half. That would be Oregon's last hoop until an Andre Joseph lay-up with just over a minute to go. Joseph's hoop cut the UCLA (6-3, 2-0) lead to 42-33, but UCLA already had the momentum advantage.
The Bruins were already doing a very good job on the boards, but when the Ducks kept missing their shots, the Bruins stepped it up even more.
(PHOTO RIGHT) Oregon's Brandon Lincoln, back, attempts to grab the ball from UCLA's Janou Rubin (2) as Oregon's Andre Joseph falls to the floor during the second half on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2004, in Los Angeles. UCLA won 74-61. (AP Photo/Chris Urso)
"Once they got their energy going they came to the boards every time," Oregon Head Coach, Ernie Kent, told OSN.
During Oregon's icy period, the Bruins didn't get more than seven points from any one player. Dijon Thompson had seven of his 13 and Janou Rubin had six of his 13 points inside of that stretch. Otherwise, UCLA moved the ball and found a lot of easy hoops off of the boards. The Bruins finished with 19 second chance points compared to Oregon's six.
Not only did UCLA get second chance points, but also the Ducks were unable to get anything going off of the fast break because the Bruins were controlling the glass. The up tempo offense that fans are used to seeing from Oregon was almost absent in the first half.
"Those were transition points for us because we didn't keep them off the boards," Kent told OSN.
The Ducks continued to play like they were on Ann Bancroft's mission across the Antarctic until 14:44 to go in the game when Luke Jackson got three the old fashioned way. Jackson's Dunk and free throw made the score 55-36.
(PHOTO LEFT) Oregon's Ian Crosswhite (11) tangles with UCLA's Josiah Johnson (54) while scrambling for a rebound during the first half Sunday, Jan. 4, 2004, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Urso)
That hoop and harm did more than just cut the lead, it got the Ducks going. Oregon cut the lead to nine at 63-54 with just under nine minutes to play after a great defensive stretch which led to a Joseph three pointer and an inside hoop.
Oregon continued to fight and cut the UCLA lead to six after Oregon's Jordan Kent stole the ball from the Bruins on their way up the court and dunked on the other end and then added a free throw on Oregon's next possession. With 5:45 to go, the Ducks were only down 65-59.
"The good thing is, they responded and came out in the second half with a lot of energy and guts and heart," Ernie Kent told OSN.
But the Ducks dug too big of a hole in the first half to be able to come back in the second. Jackson, who finished with 28 points in 37 minutes, did what he could but wasn't able to bring Oregon back. Andre Joseph did finish with 16 points, but he was the only other Duck in double figures. Ian Crosswhite, who has been solid in the past few games, was a non-factor with only six points in 31 minutes.
(PHOTO RIGHT) Oregon's Luke Jackson (33) charges past UCLA's T.J. Cummings in the first half Sunday, Jan. 4, 2004, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Urso)
Oregon was also hurt tremendously by the loss of Aaron Brooks for the game. The former McDonald's All-American point guard has been one of Oregon's freshmen phenoms this season. During the first half, Brooks was somehow knocked into the basket support by UCLA's Michael Fey.
"We don't know how serious it is, but it was serious enough to not put him back in the game because there was a lot of pain in it, which isn't a good sign," Kent told OSN. "All we can do is hope for the best and wait and see."
The Oregon medical staff will x-ray Brooks' hand back in Eugene.
Oregon will have a week to recuperate after this loss before heading out on the road again, this time to Corvallis. Oregon and Oregon State will face off in the first go-round of the Civil War this season. Oregon State fell to USC today, 91-82. The Ducks and Beavers will tip-off at 7:30pm on Saturday, January 10th.