Comeback Bid Falls Short

After digging themselves a huge hole to crawl out of, the Duck men's basketball team woke up midway through the second half and nearly pulled off a tremendous comeback but fell just short.

The UCLA Bruins (7-3, 1-1) used five double figure performances to lead them to their first win at Mac Court since 2001, 70-62.

"I give UCLA credit but I felt this had nothing to do with their defense as much as it had to do with our mental approach," Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent said. "We were out of our rhythm and made a lot of careless turnovers. We were not as sharp and did not come to play with the right amount of intensity."

After a sloppy first half that had Oregon (9-2, 1-1) down 35-26, the Ducks continued to struggle until 11:50 left when Mitch Platt caught the ball on the left side and threw down a thunderous dunk. His dunk made it 49-36 UCLA. Platt, who had 10 points in the first half and finished with a team and career high 15 points, then knocked down a free throw on the next possession cutting the Bruin lead to 12.

"Mitch had a great game," Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks said.

Oregon quickly went to a 2-3 zone and it stifled the Bruins. The Ducks got the ball back and it went to Platt on the right side. The sophomore from Henderson, Nev. turned and kissed one off the glass to make it a 10 point game.

UCLA couldn't get anything going offensively again and on the other end Oregon's Brooks drew a foul, UCLA's tenth of the half, putting Oregon in the double bonus. Brooks nailed the pair. Mac Court was rocking and UCLA looked a little stunned.

After UCLA's Michael Fey hit a free throw, Oregon flew back down the court and Brandon Lincoln nailed a jumper. Oregon was within seven. Maarty Leunen and Lincoln then had back to back twos and it was a one possession game.

The Ducks and Bruins traded free throws and after a Jordan Kent three point play, Oregon was down two. Duck Head Coach Ernie Kent pulled out Lincoln and Kent, two guys who were catalysts during the Duck run to get back in the game.

"They both asked to come out of the game because they were so fatigued," the elder Kent said. "In hindsight I probably should have ran with them down the stretch."

UCLA used Kent and Lincoln's absence as a chance to put a little more distance between them and the Ducks. A 6-0 UCLA run, sparked by a Michael Fey dunk, put the Bruins up 11 with just 48 seconds left. Fans headed for the exits.

But quickly down the court came the Ducks and Aaron Brooks nailed a three from the left side cutting the lead to eight. On the inbound play, Jordan Kent forced a jump ball which the Bruins got back on the possession arrow. The ensuing inbound play had Dijon Thompson double dribbling and the Ducks had the ball back.

Brooks drilled another three and it was a five point game. A quick Duck foul sent UCLA's Lorenzo Mata to the free throw line where he made just one. Leunen scored a two on the other end and it was a four point game with 25 seconds left.

"We turn and call time out," Ernie Kent said about the moments after the Leunen bucket. "(The official) tells me ‘you don't have a timeout left' and that was wrong. If I don't have a timeout, that's a technical foul. We knew we had one left, he would not reverse the call, he knew he had made a mistake. I thought that could have made a difference for us."

So instead of Oregon getting a timeout call, a foul was called while UCLA's Jordan Farmar tried to bring the ball up the court and he went to the line and nailed two free throws. A pair of Dijon Thompson free throws later and UCLA had the win in their grasp.

"They made a heck of a run at us and I'm glad we were able to hold on," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said.

The Ducks struggled in most aspects of the game today. UCLA brought extra physical guard play and it forced the Ducks into bad decisions and turnovers.

"We struggled offensively," Ernie Kent said.

Aaron Brooks had similar thoughts.

"UCLA did a good job of taking us out of our rhythm," he said.

Oregon also struggled on defense, allowing five Bruins to score in double figures, led by Brian Morrison's 15 off the bench. UCLA also out-rebounded the Ducks, 35-33.

Oregon did find success inside, however. Mitch Platt went 7-8 from the floor and dominated whoever was on him.

"We knew they were going to start Dijon (Thompson) at the four and we thought we had an advantage," Platt said. "Whichever guy he was guarding we were going to go to him."

Platt continued to make buckets even when other players were guarding him. He played just 25 minutes but made a major impact when he was in.

"I thought that Platt had an unbelievable first half," Howland said.

The Ducks had a chance to stay atop the Pac-10 win a win today, but will have to bring it all back together against OSU next Saturday night. That's a game Oregon can't afford to lose.

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