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UCLA deep-sixed by Oregon trying to go six deep

Bruins falter down the stretch without injured forward Jordan Adams, losing in the Pac-12 Conference tournament final to the Ducks, 78-69.

March 16, 2013|By Chris Foster

LAS VEGAS -- Jordan Adams wasn't the only person being pushed through the MGM Grand casino in a wheelchair Saturday morning.

He was just the youngest.

The Bruins plowed ahead, marching in formation — Coach Ben Howland at point and Adams rolling in the back — past the slot machines and gaming tables on their way to pregame practice.

It captured the moment: Everything's a crapshoot for the Bruins from here on out.

The first step into that unknown was later Saturday evening, and Oregon's 78-69 victory at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the Pac-12 tournament final left the Bruins at the whim of the NCAA tournament selection committee.

Adams' broken right foot may now be as much a game-changer as was his play in UCLA's victory over Arizona in the semifinals, as the selection committee might consider that when placing the Bruins.

“Is that fair to the kids?” Howland said. “That's the question you have to ask.”

Adams, the Bruins' second leading scorer, was injured on the last play against Arizona, after having scored 24 points. Whether his absence was the tipping point against the Ducks can be debated.

But it may be the tipping that sends the Bruins to points unknown.

“We want to be in the West,” forward Travis Wear said. “We want to be close to home when the big tournament rolls around. We beat Arizona three times.”

That placement might be impossible now.

The Bruins were down to a six-man rotation, with Norman Powell absorbing most of Adams' minutes. Powell finished with 10 points.

But the Ducks (26-8), as they did in a 76-67 victory over UCLA in January, wore the Bruins down.

It was a highly emotional game. Howland got his first technical as UCLA's coach when he threw his jacket into the stands after a call in the first half.

The Bruins (25-9) trailed by nine at halftime, but were down only six, 68-62, with five minutes left.

Damyean Dotson hit a jumper to give Oregon a 71-62 lead with 2:32 left. It was a game of attrition from that point.

“We stayed in the game by hitting a couple of shots, but it was tough to bust down that lead,” David Wear said. “We've had two tough games in two days that wore on us.”

Carlos Emory scored 20 points and Johnathan Loyd 19 for the Ducks. Larry Drew II and Shabazz Muhammad had 14 for UCLA.

The Bruins now look ahead to the NCAA tournament. This was their one chance to convince the selection committee that they should not be punished for losing Adams.

Adams' broken right foot will require surgery to install a pin, ending his season.

The Bruins, the Pac-12 regular-season champions, desired a spot in the West Regional. A victory over Oregon on Saturday would have made it difficult for the committee to send UCLA elsewhere.

Now, Adams' injury will be in the discussion when the committee goes behind closed doors Sunday.

All Bruins fans have to know are the words selection committee chairman Mike Bobinski said when Kentucky forward Nerlens Noel suffered a season-ending knee injury last month,

“We will clearly be watching them closely to see how they are able to play without a young man who clearly has been an important part of their success to this point,” Bobinski told USA Today.

Cincinnati lost a No. 1 seeding in 2000 when star forward Kenyon Martin broke his leg in the last week of the season, and a 26-6 St. Mary's team was denied an NCAA bid in 2009, largely because of an injury to point guard Patty Mills.

The Bruins held out hope.

“We had some tough losses, but we won the Pac-12 regular season,” Travis Wear said.

But as the Bruins march forward, the selection committee certainly will notice the guy in the wheelchair bringing up the rear.

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