EUGENE Oregon played so poorly in the first half against UCLA on Saturday that Ducks coach Dana Altman said it was painful to watch.
Redemption came after halftime.
E.J. Singler scored a career-high 26 points and Oregon rallied from a 13-point deficit to defeat the Bruins 75-68.
Our passion and energy in the first half was really disappointing, said Altman, whose Ducks (15-5, 6-2 Pac-12) are off to their best start since opening 18-1 in 2006-07. We set basketball back 10 years there in the first half.
Garrett Sim added 16 points for the Ducks, including back-to-back 3-pointers early in the second half to spark the comeback. Devoe Joseph had 10 for Oregon, which has won four straight conference games for the first time since winning six straight in 2007.
Singler scored 20 points in the second half and was 16 of 17 from the free-throw line overall, including 10 for 10 in the final 3:30. All told, the Ducks made 28 of 32 free throws; UCLA made just 10 of 21.
We showed toughness and heart today, Singler said. Coming out and winning feels good and shows we have heart, and that means a lot.
Travis Wear led the Bruins (10-9, 3-4) with 17 points, Lazeric Jones added 14, and Jerime Anderson and David Wear had 10 apiece.
The Ducks shot just 23 percent from the floor in the first half and trailed 37-24 at the break.
But fueled by its pressure defense and suddenly hot shooting, Oregon opened the second half on a 15-2 run and tied the game at 39 on a put-back dunk by Tony Woods with 15:28 to play.
Our press produced energy for us, Singler said. Our defense stepped up in the second half.
The crowd of 10,830 Oregons largest at home this season finally ignited when Sim buried a 3-pointer early in the Ducks run and was fouled. It also elicited an emotional response from Altman on the sideline before Sim completed the four-point play.
We needed something to get the crowd going, Altman said. Yeah, I was excited. I was excited the whole second half. It was a big shot and we needed it at that point.
The Bruins regrouped and eventually rebuilt a 50-42 advantage with less than 10 minutes to play.
Joseph and Sim made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to cut the Ducks deficit to 50-48. Then Singler took over. The junior scored 10 of Oregons next 14 points, including a basket off a rebound that made it 52-50 with 7:45 remaining for the Ducks first lead of the game.
Johnathan Loyd put Oregon up for good with a 3-pointer that made it 55-52 with 6:49 to play.