The Oregon Ducks were able to pull away from the UCLA Bruins in the final minutes during their game Saturday afternoon. The 76-67 win was closely contested throughout the game, but UCLA just lost steam when it really mattered.
Oregon may have won the game, but UCLA's Norman Powell owned the top highlight of the game with a nasty one-handed slam between two defenders.
This game showed why the Bruins are a step down from the country's elite basketball squads at the moment. With that in mind, here are three impressions from today's game.
The No. 2 recruit in the country came off the bench for the game against the Ducks. Head coach Ben Howland decided to relegate the freshman to the bench after he was late to a practice last week.
This was my first time seeing Muhammad play in person and my first impression of him was of a less-athletic James Harden.
While it's clear his individual skills are at an elite level, he still has much to learn when it comes to playing in a team game. He needs to learn what a perfect shot opportunity looks like. If you play within your offense, an open shot should present itself. At the moment, every time he touches the ball, he shoots it. No one likes playing with a black hole.
There were times during the game where the freshman was lazy on defense. Playing basketball means giving your full effort on both sides of the floor, not just on offense.
UCLA doesn't have a true point guard. The Bruins have several players handling the ball, and Kyle Anderson was handling those duties during the Oregon game.
The 6"9' freshman isn't fast or athletic, and he can't shoot the ball particularly well, but he does seem to do everything else well. The kid just knows how to play basketball.
I also noticed that he has great court vision. There was a full-court bounce pass that few other players in the country could pull off and several other nifty assists. Anderson finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
Then there's Larry Drew III. The senior has more conventional size for a point guard, but he didn't seem to be as assertive as he should have been. He finished with eight points and eight assists.
For UCLA to advance deep into the postseason, it needs to sort out its point-guard issues. That's because it's extremely difficult to win anything without a true and established point guard.
Oregon's bench, led by Iranian Arsalan Kazemi, outscored their starters today. Kazemi had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, Dominic Artis did a little bit of everything and Carlos Emory had a hard day of work with nine points and six rebounds.
It's a good thing to have a strong bench. The starters shouldn't be counted on to do everything.