Pac-12 Tourney Championship: Can UCLA overcome loss of Jordan Adams?
Our Experts Discuss
- by Dean Lake,
UCLA rallied to win a wild semifinal game against the 18th-ranked Arizona Wildcats, but the player responsible for carrying the Bruins to the win fell awkwardly on his last shot attempt, helped defend Arizona's attemp to tie the game, and then limped off the floor as the final buzzer sounded. X-rays showed that Jordan Adams broke his foot and will miss the remainder of the season.
Jordan had the best game of his collegiate career in the semifinal game, scoring 24 points that included a run of 15 straight in the second half for the Bruins. He is the team's second-leading scorer, the team's best free throw shooter at 84%, and arguably their best defender.
The Jordan-less Bruins move on to the finals where they will face the Oregon Ducks who controlled Utah in a sloppy, physical game in which the Ducks held the Utes to only 15 first half points. The game was the only blowout of the Pac-12 Tourney so far, a tourney that has seen an average lead of only 2.5 points with 1 minute to go in regulation in the previous games before the Ducks routed the Utes.
The Bruins lost their only meeting with the Ducks this season, a 67-76 thumping at home. Oregon dominated the boards in that game, and Duck center Tony Woods lead the scoring by going 8-9 from the floor. The Bruins' Shabazz Muhammad played 29 minutes off the bench and Jordan Adams went 0-6 from the field.
Can the Bruins win the final without Jordan? Have their chances of advancing in the NCAA tourney been significantly reduced?
The loss of Jordan is a bigger loss than if they had lost Shabazz. Jordan is their best defender, period. Without him the Bruins are a significantly worse defensive team. The only way the Bruins can beat the Ducks now is if the Ducks beat themselves. Oregon was sloppy against Utah but still beat them easily.
Don't expect the Bruins to win more than one game (if that) in the NCAA tourney, either.
The Bruins do have some talent on the bench, but a lineup shuffle is in order and that is difficult to adjust to this early in tournament play. Jordan was such a big part of the Bruins' total package that they will need someone to step up and fill that huge void. Can they still beat Oregon? Yes, but they will have win the battle of the boards, something they haven't done all year even with Adams in the lineup. The Ducks do have a tendency to fold in tight games down the stretch, but they seem to have corrected that here in the Pac-12 tourney.