Oregon blows second straight Second Half double-digit lead, as Bruins turn up the heat just in time to cook the Ducks, 75-65
The Oregon Ducks sure look great… in stretches. On Thursday night, they were in the process of dismantling usc – going up 40-25 – before crumbling to defeat. On Saturday Afternoon, they gave an encore performance. The Ducks were shooting about 60%, and went on a little run in the Second half to go up by 11, but then UCLA kicked it up a notch. It wasn’t just the Ducks CHOKING – The Bruins had plenty to do with it.
On a day where Kevin Love struggled to get untracked for 30 minutes, and where Josh Shipp’s J was still Lost at Sea, Oregon had a golden opportunity to steal a “signature win” in their efforts to make it into March Madness. But the Bruins’ Defensive pressure – spearheaded by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – put a stop to that. The Ducks couldn’t get easy shots as the game progressed, and the Bruins kept finding the passing lanes. Russell Westbrook had FIVE Steals himself. Westy also had 5 Turnovers, and a couple of missed lay-up opportunities, but made up for them with a couple of stunning Dunks, including another Classic that actually made #1 on ESPN’s “SportsCenter Top 10 Plays of the Day.” Westbrook scored 16 and led the team in Assists with 5, but was most impressive when he was able to find cracks in the Duck Defense and head for the hole.
Darren Collison led the team in scoring with 17, and had 2 Steals and 2 BLOCKS. The Bruins had nice balance, with Kevin Love adding 15 Points, Shipp tallying 10, and Luc scoring 9. Lorenzo Mata-Real also made a difference, for the second game in a row, as did Alfred Aboya, but Aboya’s contributions have been a given for quite a while now. And despite Shipp’s struggles and obvious lack of confidence from outside, he was still a major factor in the Win, with tough Defense (3 Steals) and hard-nosed Rebounding (3 Boards). But someone needs to tell him that he’s doing TOO good of a job at “replacing” Arron Afflalo — Didn’t Arron suffer through a horrible shooting slump as well, about a year ago?
Okay, now on to the subject of Spirit. The “sold out” (we could see a block of about 30 seats that obviously went unsold) crowd was quiet for much of the game, until Westbrook’s dunk with about 13 minutes left ignited them into a frenzy. When the Bruins finally edged ahead, the crowd was about as loud as Pauley EVER gets. Then half the crowd left, with a minute to go, with the Bruins up by 9.
And now, onto the REAL subject of Spirit. The UCLA Spirit Squad did not get a late wake-up call like the Basketball team. In fact, the Spirit Squad was promptly in place at the Student Store an hour before tipoff, looking incredible. Words can’t even begin to describe how it feels to be in the presence of such overwhelming beauty… so it’s a good thing we brought a camera. But even with a camera, we just can’t do them justice. It’s so dark in the Store, and the flash causes a brutal red eye effect, especially on one girl who we are now guessing must wear contacts that cause a worseneing of the effect(?). It’s a shame, because the girl in question is SO cute! We just hope that she understands why she isn’t featured as much as the girls whom she was with.
And speaking of understanding, we must salute the MALE members of our Squad, who have made us feel like part of the family, as opposed to some creepy paparazzi. These guys are so cool, that we are going to stop cropping them out of our shots. We have always tried to give as much screen space to the girls that we can, but now, we’re going to be a little more fair to the guys who are doing the heavy lifting under the airborne acrobats flying overhead. Not today, but soon, we’re even going to dedicate a whole pictorial to the MEN in Blue and Gold.
[Two “Personal” Notes:
1) I met Rick Neuheisel today. He is amazing. He has a way about him that breeds confidence. He chuckled at the idea of “The Trojan-Haters Club,” and when I told him that thousands of people were reading nothing but good things about him here, he thanked me in a way that smacked of…SINCERITY. Maybe because he knew that I was banking on the fact that he’s gotten so much BAD Press lately, but he autographed my BeatSC.com Business Card, and went out of his way to shake my hand firmly, convincing me that he appreciated my efforts. I doubt if he really does, but he was able to make me just “believe” that he DOES. It’s easy to see how he could get Norm Chow, DeWayne Walker, Milton Knox, etc. Trust me: YOU WANT to have this guy on YOUR side. He was even charming to “the” elderly female cheerleader/fan who virtually insisted that Rick had only 2 Sons, not 3, even after he patiently NAMED them off for her. I know that George Carlin hates the term “Class Act,” but it seems like that is exactly what Rick has grown into. And no, I didn’t plead with him to NOT ever hire Ken Norton, Jr., or ask him about why he chose sc Law School. But he seems so cool, that next time, I just might, because I bet that he takes the questions in the right Spirit.
2) A special message to Dance Team Captain “Katie,” whose name was JUST barely cut off on ABC’s Broadcast of the game, when the Pauley Public Address Announcer informed the crowd that the Dance Team was about to perform a routine CHOREOGRAPHED BY KATIE [Last name withheld here by request]: Dear Katie: Paula Abdul called and wants her legendary Choreography Skills back! Wow! The routine was awesome — Professional, sensual, entertaining, and perfect for the great black outfits. I’m not claiming to be some connoisseir or anything, but everyone in my section and I were terribly impressed. So congrats. By the way, that was my Wife that was with me in the store yesterday. I was too shy to introduce her, and she’s even shy-er. I hope you don’t think we were being rude! Thanks.]
And FINALLY, here are TWENTY-FIVE (mouse-over) captioned photos from Saturday’s event, featuring, the nicest, sweetest, most attractive Cheerleaders in the World… and their female counterparts (just kidding!!).
[Lots more to come in the next few days]