Jordan Adams did all he could to get UCLA into the Pac-12 title game, but if the top-seeded Bruins want to win against No. 3 Oregon, they'll have to do it without him.
Adams rallied UCLA back in a semifinal game against No. 18 Arizona, scoring 18 points in the second half as the Bruins came back from down 11 to win by two in what's been a tournament of close games, upsets, and overtimes. But his foot landed the wrong way as he challenged a shot on Arizona's last possession, breaking his foot and ending his year.
That puts pressure on freshman sensation Shabazz Muhammad and point guard Larry Drew II, who will have to power this team from the backcourt without Adams' 15.3 points. And they don't have the easiest opponent either. Led by a double-double from Arsalan Kazemi and a surprising 18 points on just nine shots by center Tony Woods, Oregon handled UCLA 76-67 at Pauley Pavilion in the teams' only match-up of the year.
Oregon hasn't had the easiest tournament either, as they needed overtime and 11 points from Kazemi in the extra session to down Washington. But they got a comfortable win against Utah.
UCLA will play to its guards and Oregon will play to its bigs. Muhammad is a do-everything swingman - perhaps more of a small forward than a shooting guard - who is almost guaranteed to be a top-five pick in next year's NBA draft. He can score effortlessly off the dribble if given the opportunity and is an athletic defender. He'll be matched up against Oregon's leading scorer E.J. Singler, which is a good match-up for UCLA on both sides of the ball, putting a middling defender in Singler on an elite talent and allowing Muhammad to go to work on Oregon's first option. While Drew rarely looks to score - he takes just 12.4 percent of his team's shots while he's on the floor - he led the conference with a whopping 7.5 assists per game.
With Adams out, Norman Powell, a sophomore shooting guard with a shaky jumper that averages 21.4 minutes per game, will be the up. After him, there aren't many options for Ben Howland. He has stuck to a limited rotation all year, with only eight players still on the team appearing in more than five games. So if he does opt to use more than two reserves in Saturday night's game, he'll be delving into uncharted territory.
Meanwhile, the Ducks look to their two senior big men. Kazemi is just 6'7, but the Rice transfer is third in the conference with 9.5 boards per game, with his 28.4 defensive rebounding rate No. 3 in the nation. And the 6'11 Woods has spurts, like his 18 against UCLA and a season-high 19 in the quarterfinals against Washington, but he can just as easily disappear. They'll be working against the Wear twins, David and Travis, neither of whom stand out as exceptional defenders.
Here's the info on Saturday night's game:
No. 1 UCLA (25-8, 13-5, Kenpom ranking 41) vs. No. 3 Oregon (25-8, 12-6, Kenpom ranking 47)
11 p.m. Eastern