After defeating the UC Berkeley Golden Bears on the road, the UCLA Bruins return home tonight to face the Oregon Ducks. While the Ducks are 9-6 overall, they are just 2-4 away from Eugene so far this season.
That doesn’t mean tonight will be an easy game. After all, the Bruins will not have their usual home court advantage tonight as there will be no crowd in attendance for. In fact, as of right now, fans won’t be able to attend a home basketball game until the rescheduled Arizona game on January 25th. Thankfully, that affects only tonight’s game and Saturday’s game against Oregon State, even though I’m sure that Mick and the players would like to have more fans there cheering them on.
Let’s take a look at the starters for Oregon.
The Ducks will start five upperclassmen against the Bruins tonight. That alone should make this a tough game and Dana Altman will certainly have his team ready to play.
Oregon is led by senior guard Will Richardson. He is a big three-point threat for the Ducks. Richardson is one of just three Pac-12 players to shoot 40% or better from three in each of the last two seasons. He is averaging 13.4 ppg and he is the guy who takes the most shots for Oregon. In fact, Richardson can do it all. He also leads the team in assists with 52 while also being the team’s best defender, having forced 29 turnovers so far. The only thing he doesn’t do much of for the Ducks is rebound, but that’s why they have their big men.
Forward Jacoby Young is the other senior who will start for the Ducks. He’s second on the team in points with an average of 10.5 per game while shooting 43.6% from the field. He also leads the team in steals with 20.
De’Vion Harmon is the third Duck who is averaging in double figures with 10.1 ppg. Harmon transferred to Oregon this year from Oklahoma where he earned Big 12 honorable mention last year and notched four 20-point games. He is one of 20 players nationwide to be named to the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year watch list.
Rounding out the starting five are juniors N’Faly Dante and Quincy Guerrier. These are the big men for the Ducks. Dante leads the team with an average of 5.5 rebounds per game while Guerrier is good for 5.1 rpg. Dante saw action in six games last season and shot 65.5 percent from the field. He holds the Matthew Knight Arena record for FG%, hitting 10-of-10 field goal attempts versus Florida A&M. Hopefully, the rims at Pauley won’t be as kind to him tonight.
Guerrier comes to the Ducks after transferring from Syracuse where he helped the Orangemen to last year’s Sweet Sixteen and was named All-ACC third team. He is one of 20 players nationwide to be named to the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year watch list.
All things being equal, I’m nervous about tonight’s game. Sure, UCLA seems to have picked up where they left off before their COVID-forced break, but Dana Altman is a good coach who will have his guys ready to play tonight. I also have a feeling that the Ducks are better than their 9-6 record indicates.
If UCLA wasn’t playing Oregon State next, I might suggest that tonight could be a trap game. But the Bruins should be focused on the Ducks and not looking ahead to the Beavs. The big question will be: Does Mick Cronin have the Bruins playing with the necessary intensity they will need to have to win tonight? I think he will, but I think this one may come down to the wire.
Opponent: Oregon Ducks (9-6, 2-2)
Series Record: UCLA leads, 90-37
When: 6:30 pm PT, Thursday, January 13, 2021
Where: Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ESPN with Dave Pasch and Bill Walton
Live Stream: WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app
Radio:AM 1150 in Los Angeles with Josh Lewin and Tracy MurraySatellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 158 XM Ch. 197 (UCLA Call)
Live Stats: UCLA StatBroadcast
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