Men's BasketballSports

Ducks team play vital in UCLA win

In the first half of Oregon’s 94-91 win over UCLA, the Ducks showed the best glimpse of team play all season when all five players on the court combined to set up a Troy Brown 3-pointer from the corner.

“We work on it in practice,” forward MiKyle McIntosh said. “Just gotta make sure we make the extra pass, and getting people open and understanding that it’s a team and not just individuals. Any way we can get our teammates a bucket is the best way we can go.”

With only one returning player who played significant minutes in the Ducks’ 2017 Final Four run, teamwork has been difficult to generate for Oregon this season. The Ducks’ strong team performance carried them to the finish line after they came close to losing, despite possessing an 18-point lead in the second half.

Oregon moved the ball with precision, never turning it over in the first half. The Ducks’ offense worked against UCLA’s defense like it was a practice drill.

“We did a great job of it when we were at Arizona, Arizona State,” McIntosh said. “I think we just gotta get back to our ball movement because our ball movement was amazing over there and I think our team played a lot better when we pass the ball a lot.”

Oregon has relied on different players throughout the season to have big games. From Payton Pritchard to McIntosh to Elijah Brown, multiple Ducks have been forced to step up individually to grind out wins.

Against UCLA, the scoring came with a bit of variety as four players scored 17 or more points. Pritchard led the way with 25, including several free throws late in the game to hold onto the win.

“He’s been shooting the way we knew he could,” McIntosh said of Pritchard. “He was shooting the ball very well in the summertime. We see him as a shooter so he’s just doing his job and hitting shots. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. Right now, his shot is hitting.”

The teamwork didn’t solely come on the offense, but came in clutch for the defense late in the game as Oregon’s lead thinned. Oregon’s defense fouled strategically to send UCLA players to the line rather than allow the Bruins to attempt 3-pointers to tie the game.

The Ducks narrowly out-rebounded UCLA 31-29, improving Oregon’s record to 12-1 when out-rebounding opponents. Six different players had rebounds for the Ducks’ win.

With a young team, Oregon’s inexperience became apparent late as UCLA started to climb back, but the Ducks’ resilience kept them on top.

“I looked out one time and we had Kenny [Wooten], Troy [Brown] and [Bailey Jr.] out there for a long time and that’s usually not a formula for success, you know, having three freshmen out there against a vet team,” head coach Dana Altman said. “Gotta be careful about getting too many freshmen out there in conference play, but we’re late in January, they’re gonna have to play in some.”

Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow

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Shawn Medow

Shawn Medow

Shawn is an associate sports editor and reporter for the Emerald covering football, men's basketball, women's basketball, acrobatics and tumbling, track and field/cross-country and softball. He also hosts several podcasts, including a soccer podcast, on the Emerald Podcast Network. You can contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShawnMedow.