Pick a state of affairs, any state of affairs.
A taut sport that comes right down to the final possession. A rout earlier than halftime. Down by double digits early. Ahead comfortably after an enormous opening run.
Top gamers battle. Shots don’t fall. There’s an enormous second-half letdown. Barely any manufacturing from reserves. A starter goes down for weeks due to an harm.
What’s the widespread thread?
UCLA has prevailed in each state of affairs.
No matter what has gone proper or fallacious, the seventh-ranked Bruins have gained each sport during the last 7½ weeks.
UCLA’s 13-game successful streak is the longest within the nation amongst main convention faculty groups, vaulting the Bruins (16-2, 7-0 Pac-12) atop the convention standings and placing them on a trajectory for a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed within the NCAA event.
Scoffing on the significance of a January successful streak, UCLA coach Mick Cronin joked that his crew’s latest run and $4 might get any individual a cup of espresso at Starbucks.
Yet the power to win in so some ways might additionally make the Bruins ideally suited to a Big Dance marathon in March and April, when six consecutive victories shall be wanted to stay the final crew standing.
“At a dance contest, you got to be able to dance to every song they play,” Cronin mentioned Saturday, relaying an previous saying favored by his 81-year-old father, Hep. “Some are slow, some are fast. It ain’t the tango every night. You got to be able to win in different ways against different styles. But when you defend, you always got a chance.”
Their report however, the Bruins usually are not a dominant crew. They usually are not blessed with knockdown shooters outdoors of senior guard David Singleton. Their offense is vulnerable to prolonged lulls.
None of that has derailed UCLA since its solely two losses of the season, towards Illinois and Baylor in late November.
The formulation that has sustained the Bruins ever since hasn’t wavered. Defend like loopy. Move the ball with out turning it over. Play with ardour.
All had been on show throughout UCLA’s newest high-wire act, a 68-54 victory over Colorado on Saturday evening. Down by 9 factors with a little bit greater than 10 minutes to play, the Bruins gained in a runaway as a result of they by no means give up defending.
“I knew that we were gonna be fine,” senior ahead Jaime Jaquez Jr. mentioned, “as long as we stopped them from scoring.”
Unlike many gamers fixated on their scoring totals, these Bruins obsess over a statistic that doesn’t seem within the official field rating. It’s their variety of deflections, a metric that features tipped passes along with steals and blocks.
As an unofficial statistic, it has led to some debates over accounting. After being advised that Jaquez’s 10 deflections had been another than his whole towards Utah final week, guard Jaylen Clark wished to rewatch footage of the sport to verify.
“Jaylen takes it personal,” Cronin mentioned, “if someone has more than him.”
The Bruins have logged their final 5 victories with out freshman guard Amari Bailey, whose absence due to foot discomfort has moved Singleton into the beginning lineup whereas thinning the crew’s bench depth.
Against Colorado, UCLA’s reserves took solely two pictures and went scoreless. They might shrug and smile afterward given the result.
What has happy Cronin most about his crew’s tightest wins throughout its streak — a one-point victory over Washington State and a two-point overcome USC — is that it scored on its closing possession and obtained a cease on its final defensive sequence.
“You’re going to have to do that,” Cronin mentioned, “if you’re going to advance in March.”
UCLA owns the identical report that it did at this level final season on the way in which to falling to North Carolina within the Sweet 16. That crew relied closely on the capturing of Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard, who’ve each moved on, nevertheless it wasn’t as cautious with the ball and its protection wasn’t fairly the lockdown model displayed by the present Bruins.
UCLA has dedicated fewer turnovers than its opponent in each sport this season. During their successful streak, the Bruins have held opponents to 57.1 factors per sport.
Defense typically triggers offense, the Bruins getting out on the quick break for layups after steals. Against Colorado, they scored 25 factors off 23 compelled turnovers. Efficiency on each ends of the court docket makes this crew a twin menace.
These Bruins stay relentless whatever the circumstances, embracing the message Cronin delivered Saturday.
“I told them in the timeout: ‘I don’t need heroes. I need soldiers,’ ” Cronin mentioned. “You know, soldiers win wars, heroes get people in trouble. In sports, heroes get you beat. You’ve got to be a soldier and keep doing your job, and eventually the worm turns.”
Tougher battles loom, together with a three-game journey that includes exams towards Arizona State (15-3) on Thursday, Arizona (15-3) on Saturday and USC (13-5) on Jan. 26.
When issues get powerful — a deficit mounting, a hostile crowd using them — the Bruins can rely on one final result. They gained’t give up.