UCLA aims to make defensive stand against Oregon

Author:
Sportsnaut

LAS VEGAS — Fourth-seeded Oregon and No. 5 seed UCLA will meet in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Conference tournament Thursday after the Bruins won their first-round game against Oregon State 67-57 on Wednesday.

Oregon (20-11) spent most of the regular season in the top five of the conference standings, led by guards Jermaine Couisnard and Jackson Shelstad and center N’Faly Dante.

Couisnard leads Oregon with an average of 15.5 points per game, and Dante, who was named to the all-conference first team, averages 15.4 points and 8.9 rebounds.

“I had a great time here, and there’s just hope that we get it done and I can do more in the tournament and help my team,” Dante, a senior, told the Eugene Register-Guard this week.

Shelstad, named to the conference’s all-freshman team, enters the Ducks’ first Pac-12 tournament game at 12.7 points a game.

Ducks coach Dana Altman has the most coaching victories in the history of the Pac-12 Tournament with 22. His team spent the first half of Wednesday’s first-round game between UCLA and Oregon State scouting from the seats.

They saw UCLA (16-16) use a suffocating defense to hold Oregon State to 22 first-half points, and that defense was present all afternoon as the Bruins got their hands in passing lanes and were tough at the rim, led by big man Adem Bona.

“My whole team played a huge part in it,” said Bona, the Pac-12’s defensive player of the year. “I believe defense is giving your all-out effort every time on the floor.”

Dylan Andrews scored 31 points, the most by a Bruins player this season, which including making 7 of 9 shots from 3-point range. Bona, UCLA’s top scorer at an average of 12.5 points per game, added 17.

UCLA and Oregon split the two meetings in the regular season. Oregon won the first game 64-59 on Dec. 30 at home, and Andrews’ 21 points led the Bruins to a 71-63 win in Los Angeles on Feb. 3.

The Bruins have won two straight games after a five-game losing streak.

“We just have to play our hearts out the whole entire time,” Andrews said after Wednesday’s win.

The winner of Thursday’s game will meet the winner of the matchup between No. 1 seed Arizona and No. 9 Southern California in the semifinals.

–Jose Romero, Field Level Media

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