Mon, 17 Jan 2022

No. 2 UCLA to roll dice again vs. UNLV

Field Level Media
27 Nov 2021, 04:19 GMT+10

Coming off a blowout loss to top-ranked Gonzaga on Tuesday, No. 2 UCLA aims to regroup on Saturday as it remains in Las Vegas to take on UNLV.

The Bruins (5-1) on Tuesday dug a deep hole early in their rematch of last season's Final Four thriller against Gonzaga, and never recovered from an 11-of-41 field-goal shooting performance (26.8 percent) in the first half of an 83-63 defeat.

UCLA's points scored were a season low, but giving up 56 percent shooting from the floor to the Bulldogs was the more pressing concern for coach Mick Cronin.

"We're not a good defensive team and we got exposed tonight by a great team," Cronin said. "We started trying to move the ball and play team basketball, but it was too late, obviously, when you get down 20 to them."

The Bruins endured offensive lulls in the first game of the Empire Classic, a 75-62 victory over Bellarmine on Monday. UCLA standouts Jaime Jaquez Jr., Tyger Campbell and Jules Bernard all were stuck on two points until the late moments of Monday's contest.

Campbell and Jaquez regained their double-figure scoring form a day later against Gonzaga with 11 and 19 points, respoectively, while Bernard finished with seven points after scoring just five on Monday.

Freshman Peyton Watson, who scored a career-high 19 points against Bellarmine, finished scoreless against Gonzaga.

Cronin said Tuesday that the Bruins' offensive efficiency markedly improved in the second half. UCLA will try to carry that over into the last of its three games in the desert.

UNLV (4-2) dropped a pair of games last weekend to Michigan and Wichita State at the Roman Main Event, the latter in a 74-73 decision that ended with players and coaches from the two teams getting into an altercation.

UNLV coach Kevin Kruger said the fracas "wasn't that big of a deal."

The Runnin' Rebels regrouped on Wednesday to blast Division III Whittier College 101-45.

"We are proud of the guys for fighting back after a nice kick to the gut the way the game finished on Sunday," Kruger said. "It was definitely a concern going in because sometimes those hangovers can last a little longer than you want with all the emotion that was in that game."

Justin Webster scored 17 points and Marvin Coleman added 13 in the rout. Bryce Hamilton, UNLV's leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, recorded five points and three assists in just 12 minutes on Wednesday.

The backcourt duo of Hamilton and Donovan Williams (11.0 points) pace the Rebels' offense as the team's two double-figure point-per-game scorers.

Johnny Juzang leads a contingent of four Bruins averaging in double figures through the Bruins' first six games at 18.3 points per game. Jaquez is scoring 16.2, Bernard adds 14 and Campbell averages 10.8.

Despite its struggles scoring in stretches against Bellarmine and Gonzaga, UCLA comes into Saturday's matchup ranked in the top 10 nationally of adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom.com metrics at 113.3.

--Field Level Media

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