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UCLA earn first Pac-12 Conference win of season over Cal
By Jonathan Bassey, Contributing Writer
Published December 7, 2020

UCLA Athletics – 2020-2021 UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball team versus the University of California Bears, Pauley Pavilion, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
December 6th, 2020
Copyright Don Liebig/ASUCLA
201206_MBKC_0280.JPG

Due to the coronavirus, this is the earliest point in any season schedule in which the Bruins have played a league game in the modern era.

“I’m a believer that CDC and the guidelines are out there for a reason,” said Bruin Head Coach Mick Cronin on the global pandemic and possible game cancellations. “You don’t realize the silent spread is the problem with this virus. You have to be as careful as possible. Basketball is not football, you can play back to back in basketball.” 

If any conference team was ready for early conference play it’s the Bruins who brought back eight of their primary 10 contributors from last season’s team. 

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All five starters from the second half of last season have returned (Tyger Campbell, David Singleton, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Chris Smith and Jalen Hill). Also back for the Bruins are Cody Riley, Jules Bernard and Jake Kyman, as well as Kenneth Nwuba, who took a redshirt year in 2019- 20.

UCLA Athletics – 2020-2021 UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball team versus the University of California Bears, Pauley Pavilion, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
December 6th, 2020
Copyright Don Liebig/ASUCLA
201206_MBKC_0234.JPG

The Bruins converted on their first seven shot attempts of the first half jumping out to a 16-9 lead and never looked back, leading for 16 of the first halfs 20 total minutes. 

Putting on a show doesn’t give enough justice to the Bruins first half execution. Mick Cronin’s Bruins shot 70 percent in the first half heading into halftime ahead 40-22 behind senior Chris Smith’s 11 first half points.

Not only was the offense impressive in the first half of play but the defense was live and alert forcing Cal to shoot a measly 37 percent from the field in the half. 

“Big point of emphasis was not to come out and start slow,” said Chris Smith on the early sense of urgency. 

UCLA Athletics – 2020-2021 UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball team versus the University of California Bears, Pauley Pavilion, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
December 6th, 2020
Copyright Don Liebig/ASUCLA
201206_MBKC_0270.JPG

Domination is an understatement. UCLA controlled the game from tip off. The Bruins put their stamp all over the first half with 17 rebounds, 15 assists, and 14 bench points. 

Senior Chris Smith has entered the season as UCLA’s most experienced player. Smith has now played in all 100 games for UCLA since the start of the 2017-18 campaign, averaging 7.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game earning first-team All-Pac-12 last season.  

A packed Pauley Pavilion would have been a sight to witness. Tyger Campbell turned  the second half into a dunk party with back to back alley-oop assists to his big man Jalen Hill flushing them home with ease extending the Bruins lead to 51-32.

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“His athleticism is a piece to our puzzle,” said Cronin on Hill’s ability to show he can get the ball whenever it is thrown to him.  

Tyger Campbell and-one floater putting the Bruins up 62-47 with nine minus in regulation.  

UCLA Athletics – 2020-2021 UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball team versus the University of California Bears, Pauley Pavilion, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
December 6th, 2020
Copyright Don Liebig/ASUCLA
201206_MBKC_0194.JPG

With 7:30 to play Tyger Campbell pushed the pace to Jaime Jacquez Jr who threw a pin point lob to Chris Smith throwing down the alley-oop for Smith’s 17th point of the game. 

Back to back three pointers from Bruins sharpshooter Jaime Jacquez Jr sealed the game for the Bruins with three minutes left to put the game out of reach with a 72-54 lead. 

Senior Chris Smith led the Bruins with 21 points improving to 1-0 in conference play. 

“Playing for each other, that’s what we’ve been doing lately,” said Chris Smith when asked about what has attributed to the excellent play as of late. 

The Bruins will take on the University of San Diego on Wednesday, December 9th looking to keep moving forward with their great play. 

Categories: Basketball | Daily Briefs | Sports
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