Oregon Loses at UCLA 70-53

Calling it a "a tale of two halves," Oregon's head coach Ernie Kent thought his team played well in the first half of the game but because of leg weariness lost the second half to UCLA 70-53. The Ducks had repeated shots hit the front of the rim in the last half of a game played at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. Oregon (13-16, 7-10) must now rest and recuperate in preparation for the season's finale at Oregon State.

(PHOTO) Oregon's Jordan Kent, center, dunks the ball as UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah A. Moute, left, and Michael Fey (45) watch during the first half of a men's college basketball game in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2006.(AP Photo/Francis Specker)

UCLA improved its record to 22-6, 12-4 in the Pac-10 race, coasted easily in the second half after a hard fought 20 minutes that found the Ducks leading by five, 28-23 at halftime. The Bruins came back after the intermission with more determination and an obvious re-supply of energy to finish the contest shooting 53 percent from the field on 25-of-47. Meanwhile, Oregon slipped to a colder 41-percent field goal efficiency going 21-for-51 and a paltry 4-of-15 beyond the 3-point mark.

"UCLA stepped it up on senior's day," Kent told the Oregon Sports Network after the game. "They had a little bit more energy than we did in that second half and I thought that was the difference in this game, both offensively and defensively."

The Bruins were paced by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Arron Afflalo also had 14 while Jordan Farmar contributed 11. The Ducks could not seem to stop Mbah a Moute from attacking the boards and that has been a weakness Oregon has struggled with physical teams all year long.

"He's had a couple games on us where he's got double figures on us in both rebounds and points," Kent said of Mbah a Moute. "Obviously we haven't got that figured out yet as he is such a furious rebounder, he's very similar to the players at Washington where he's just relentless on the boards."

The Ducks did play well in the first half of the game but their defensive effort seemed to drain them when the game resumed after the halftime break. The Ducks' shooting dropped off and when the final horn sounded only two Oregon players finished scoring in double-figures. Aaron Brooks finished the game with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting including 3-of-5 in 3-pointers. Chamberlain Oguchi added 10 for the Ducks' cause. Brooks overall had a strong game and took care of the ball well in Kent's opinion.

"I'm certainly hoping he's starting to silence a lot of his critics," Kent said of Brooks. "He's had close to 40 points in two games and no turnovers."

Oregon will face Oregon State next week at Corvallis in the final game of the season and this week may call for extra rest for the Ducks as they must prepare not only for the Civil War but also the Pac-10 Tourney after that. Kent is still optimistic about this team. He believes his squad is deep in talent. The Ducks individually and collectively have played well at times during the season but now they must be able to get solidify their effort in the next two weeks.

"We are playing good basketball," allowed Kent of his team's performance. "We just need to regroup and get our energy back."

The Ducks will meet the Beavers next Saturday with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m. The game will be carried on the Beaver Sports Network.

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