UCLA Bruins (15-10, 7-5) vs. Oregon (18-7, 8-4)
Tipoff: Saturday, Feb. 14, 12:07 p.m., Pauley Pavilion
TV: FOX (Gus Johnson, Jim Jackson)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Tracy Murray)
Scouting report: Oregon is a run-and-gun offense, one that can bury a team quickly if its shooters heat up. That’s what happened to UCLA when it traveled to Eugene last month. The Bruins played a level of defense that veered from lackadaisical to putrid — allowing the Ducks to shoot 75 percent from the field in the first half of an 82-64 blowout.
UCLA senior Norman Powell called out the team for its defensive effort in Eugene, and it might be up to him again to make sure there isn’t a letdown after stifling Oregon State on Wednesday.
On the other hand, Oregon’s own defense is paper thin. Since conference play started, the team has allowed opponents to make 53.2 percent of their 2-point shots — a huge hole that UCLA should be able to exploit if it can establish an inside-out attack. Center Tony Parker looks like he’s shaken off any rust from the two games he missed with back spasms, and should help the Bruins substantially in this rematch. The Ducks are 12-0 this season when holding teams to fewer than 69 points.
Both teams are either on or just outside the bubble, and with Oregon hovering one spot above them in the Pac-12 standings, the Bruins need this win to stay on right side of NCAA Tournament projections.
Opposing player to watch: Joseph Young is the Pac-12’s leading scorer, and he isn’t afraid to let it fly. Nearly 47 percent of the senior guard’s field goal attempts come from beyond the arc, and he hits them at a solid 37.6 percent clip.
But relying too much on outside shooting can make Oregon vulnerable too. In the Ducks’ seven losses, Young made an average of three 2-point baskets. In their 18 wins, he averaged just over five.
Key stat: Although it remains one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in college basketball, UCLA has not lost a conference game this season when it takes at least 20 attempts from the line. Oregon is allowing 28.5 free throw attempts in losses to Pac-12 opponents, and 17.5 attempts in wins.
Odds: UCLA opened as a 6-point favorite in Las Vegas. kenpom.com gives the Bruins a 73 percent chance of winning.