Jaime Jaquez Jr. leads No. 9 UCLA to rout of Washington State
It was a get-well card to themselves, full with hearts and smiley faces.
Everyone signed it. Personal touches have been all over the place.
Adem Bona flexed in satisfaction as he sat alongside the baseline Saturday night, the UCLA freshman heart having blocked three pictures in lower than three minutes. Jaime Jaquez Jr. slapped palms in celebration after sinking three-pointers and snagging rebounds on the way in which to a different double-double.
Finally, most improbably, there was the literal signature second, walk-on guard Russell Stong IV lingering on the Pauley Pavilion courtroom to signal an autograph after his first look in practically two months.
The most encouraging signal of all may need been the “We want Russell!” chant that broke out just a few minutes earlier. It meant the Bruins have been comfortably on the way in which to a win over Washington State, placing the doldrums of current weeks behind them.
Unleashing their most full efficiency in additional than a month, the ninth-ranked Bruins rolled to a 76-52 win over the Cougars that stretched the nation’s longest dwelling successful streak to 21 video games in emphatic style.
“Tremendous team spirit today,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin mentioned. “I was really proud of the guys with their attitude.”
Along the way in which to sustaining its spot atop the Pac-12 standings, UCLA (19-4, 10-2 Pac-12) conquered its greatest nemesis of current weeks, avoiding a large second-half letdown. Sustaining an intense ball strain, the Bruins stored constructing their lead whereas outscoring the Cougars (10-15, 5-9) by 15 factors within the second half.
“I thought we played with a lot different attitude, a lot more positive attitude,” Jaquez mentioned after scoring a game-high 24 factors and grabbing a career-high 15 rebounds. “Not thinking about anything else and just playing the game, I think that’s what won this game.”
The perspective adjustment got here after one unnamed coach ordered gamers in a bunch textual content to deliver extra optimistic vibes it doesn’t matter what occurred, taking part in with all-out effort.
“So that’s what we did,” mentioned senior guard David Singleton, who embodied these phrases by lunging at a ball headed for the stands, his physique flying onto a courtside desk.
The Bruins switched their protection by having freshman guard Amari Bailey strain the ball out entrance and double-teamed Washington State ahead Mouhamed Gueye, holding him to 6 factors on three-for-13 capturing after he had singed USC for 31 factors on Thursday.
“We made it really hard for him to catch the ball anywhere near the paint,” Cronin mentioned. “It was going to take him a lot of dribbles to get there.”
Bona regularly made issues robust for his counterpart, blocking one in all his pictures and maneuvering round him for a layup. The Bruins outscored the Cougars by a 36-12 margin within the paint whereas additionally drastically chopping down on the turnovers that had plagued them two nights earlier throughout a near-collapse towards Washington.
Cronin made decreasing turnovers a precedence, yanking gamers after each blunder. His crew completed with solely 10 turnovers, its greatest exhibiting in that class in virtually a month. Jaquez and level guard Tyger Campbell (9 assists, 4 factors, three rebounds) mixed for less than three turnovers after recording 9 towards the Huskies.
“I was trying to make a point tonight, pretty clear,” Cronin mentioned, “you’re not playing if you turn the ball over because we won’t win the Pac-12, we won’t go where we want to go in the NCAA tournament if you turn the ball over.”
After a number of current lifeless showings, notably within the second half, the Bruins once more regarded like a crew able to a deep postseason run. They remembered their defensive id, making 9 steals whereas forcing 15 turnovers, and shared the ball on offense, Campbell and Jaquez combining for one memorable give-and-go sequence that led to a Campbell layup on which he was fouled.
Even their much-maligned bench got here up huge. Freshman guard Dylan Andrews offered a spark along with his quickness, twisting his physique round one defender for a layup, whereas additionally pressuring the Cougars into calling a timeout within the backcourt. UCLA’s reserves outscored their Cougars counterparts 17-0.
Jaquez credited Singleton with holding his teammates within the room after a movie session following the current loss to USC. Realizing his profession was nearing the top, Singleton delivered a message about cherishing each second the Bruins have left collectively this season.
“It was just telling them you have to put your all into it, you have to believe in each other, believe in the coaching staff, believe in yourself and each other,” Singleton mentioned.
Judging from the way in which they performed Saturday, they consider.