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No. 10 UCLA goes for Oregon sweep

No. 10 UCLA is in the middle of a hotly contested Pacific 12 Conference regular-season title chase, while Oregon State is still in search of its first conference victory when the teams meet at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

The teams also enter the game coming off drastically different results in their previous games.

UCLA (22-3, 9-3 in the Pac-12) won for the ninth time in the last 11 games by making a dramatic comeback after trailing by 19 points early to defeat fifth-ranked Oregon 82-79 on Thursday night in front of a capacity crowd at Pauley Pavilion.

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On the same night, Oregon State (4-21, 0-12) lost its 12th consecutive game (all in conference play) with a 92-66 drubbing at the hands of USC at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.

It was the Beavers' fourth loss by 20 points or more this season. UCLA defeated the Beavers 76-63 in Corvallis, Ore., on Dec. 30 when the Bruins were ranked No. 2.

"We've seen (the shortcomings) all year and nothing's changing," said Oregon State redshirt freshman guard Kendal Manuel, who had 11 points against USC.

"We just got to buy in and that's the main thing. Coach (Wayne Tinkle) always says you got to build for the future. We need to actually lock in and do that."

After losing consecutive games against Arizona and USC last month, UCLA is locked into to a conference title chase with Arizona (11-1 in the Pac-12), Oregon (10-2) and California (9-3).

Freshman point guard Lonzo Ball is the Bruins' driving force. He came alive against the Ducks when UCLA needed him the most, making four of his final five shots, including five points in the last 1:10 of the game.

"That's my time to do what I've got to do," Ball said. "The team is comfortable with me in those type of situations. I had the ball and I just wanted to win."

Ball, who averages 7.6 assists per game, finished with a season-low one assist against Oregon but he made up for that with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

He drove for a clutch layup in the waning moments, to give UCLA a 77-72 lead with 1:10 to play. He then answered an Oregon 3-pointer with a 30-footer that was all net, prompting him to gesture and yell on the way back down the court to celebrate a five-point lead with 32 seconds to play.

"Now I don't want five straight from 35 feet away, but if he makes the first four I might," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "But he just has that feel and I trust him."

With UCLA's firepower on the perimeter with Ball, Bryce Alford, Aaron Holiday and Isaac Hamilton, Tinkle is very concerned.

That quartet is a big reason UCLA has shot 42.2 percent from 3-point distance, a percentage that stands as the second highest in school history. The 1988-89 squad made 42.6 percent of its 3-point shots.

After Oregon State led 6-0 against USC on 3-pointers by JaQuori McLaughlin and Manuel, the Trojans responded by making 6 of 7 from beyond the arc during a 22-9 run to start pulling away.

"They hit five of their first six threes against man-to-man," Tinkle said. "And then we went zone and this same spot that kills us, this right corner. We couldn't get there and they hit a few more. ... Right now, defense on the perimeter is one of our weaknesses, whether it's man or zone."

McLaughlin, who led Oregon State with 12 points against USC, does not get as much publicity as Ball but he is a capable freshman guard in his own right. His 48 3-pointers this season have tied Oregon State's freshman record, set last year by Stephen Thompson Jr.