The Beyond Section: Previewing UCLA at Oregon

– Posted by Zurg –

In tonight’s Game of the Night, the Pac-12’s most efficient offense is on the road at Matthew Knight Arena. UCLA (AP: NR, Coaches: NR, KenPom: 20, BPI: 16) travels to take on Oregon (AP: NR, Coaches: NR, KenPom: 41, BPI: 26).

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Oregon is happy to be back on its home floor, coming off a 1-2 road trip and a 1-5 record in its last six games overall. Following 13 straight wins to start the season, Oregon lost five straight games in Pac-12 play (including three losses to teams outside the KenPom top 50).

Despite its recent problems, the Ducks’ defense has been more troubling than its offense. In the country, Oregon ranks 14th in offensive efficiency, 26th in effective Field Goal Percentage, and 22nd in 3P Percentage. In conference play, however, Oregon’s effective Field Goal Percentage ranks 9th, while its 3P% has dropped nearly 5% down to 34.8%.

Defensively, Oregon has never been especially strong this season. Its defensive efficiency this year ranks 128th nationally (read: slightly above average), but since beginning games in the Pac-12, it has fallen significantly and is now rated 9th in the conference.

In addition, Oregon’s defensive 2P%, 3P%, and FT% rank 10th, 11th, and 12th in the conference. Another alarming factoid is that Oregon’s defense has the worst Free Throw Rate in the conference (measures made Free Throws divided by attempted Field Goals to determine how often a team GETS to the free throw line and how often a team MAKES those free throws).

All of this information points to the conclusion that Oregon is a strong offensive team and an average defensive team that has been struggling defensively of late. Now would be a seemingly bad time for the conference’s best rated offense to come to Eugene, Oregon, right?

Unfortunately for Oregon, UCLA is on the schedule for tonight. The Bruins (16-4, 5-2) have the #1 most efficient offense and the #2 most efficient defense in Pac-12 play. Steve Alford’s squad has lost to zero teams outside of the KenPom top 50 and beaten three of them (including its two most recent games over Stanford and California). Since a loss on the road to Utah on January 18, UCLA is rolling on all cylinders. The only statistic UCLA has trouble with is offensive Free Throw Rate (read: taking and making free throws).

KEY MATCHUP: UCLA OFFENSE versus OREGON DEFENSE

Pretty broad matchup here, but the deciding factor in this game will be if Oregon’s defense can handle UCLA’s offense. UCLA plays at the 17th fastest tempo in the country; Oregon ranks 21st. This game is going to be fast, so improving upon the 2nd worst defensive effective Field Goal Percentage in the Pac-12 will be key for Oregon.

FACT OF THE GAME:

Kyle Anderson is averaging 15.5 points, 9 rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. The last freshman or sophomore to average 15 points, 9 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game was DeJuan Blair at Pittsburgh in 2008-09.

PREDICTION:

After taking the under and the home team last night in the Iowa State-Kansas game, I am going to take the over and the away team tonight. Oregon is desperate to get something going, but UCLA will take this game on the road in a high scoring affair.

UCLA 94, Oregon 85

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