UCLA stays hot with 81-57 drubbing of Cal, moves into first in the Pac-12
No Johnny Juzang? No problem for the Bruins, who are once again rolling.
No. 7 UCLA jumped all over Cal Thursday night, using a balanced scoring attack in the absence of their best shot-maker to win 81-57. The victory moved UCLA to 7-1 in conference play so far this season, and with Arizona idle for a bit longer, the Bruins officially moved into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12.
The Bruins announced before the game that Juzang, the team’s leading scorer at 18.1 points a game, had entered into COVID-19 protocols. He had 15 points in UCLA’s win over No. 3 Arizona on Tuesday, and four straight games over 20 points before that. The junior guard was one of only three scholarship players who avoided the virus when it halted team activities for nearly a month beginning in mid-December, but now his status is a bit up in the air.
Jaylen Clark also missed his second straight game because of concussion protocol, and might remain out for a while.
Their absences didn’t much affect the Bruins (15-2, 7-1 Pac-12) against the struggling Golden Bears (9-11, 2-7 Pac-12), who have now lost six straight games.
After opening the first six minutes of the game with only four makes on their first 10 shots, UCLA made 13 of its next 17. That included buckets from Jules Bernard, Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Cody Riley, Peyton Watson, and Jake Kyman.
It was 11-9 with 15 minutes to go in the first half. Ten minutes later, it was a 34-20 UCLA lead. Then Jaquez scored three straight buckets and Watson hit a triple just before the halftime break. A 7-0 run from Cal late kept the margin respectable heading into the intermission (43-29), but UCLA was in full control.
The two sides matched buckets over the first 10 minutes of the second half before UCLA once again took over.
A jumper from Cal’s Jalen Celestine with 10:45 on the clock made it a 15-point game. Over the next seven minutes, Cal hit just one shot and UCLA embarked on a 13-2 run.
Jaquez finished with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting to lead all scorers. Riley (14), Watson (12), Bernard (12), and Kyman (10) all scored in double-digits as well. Campbell added eight points and five dimes in just 21 minutes of work, helping orchestrate an offense that shot 53% from the field and scored a remarkable 1.3 points per possession.
The Bears were led by Sam Alajiki, who had 11 points on six shots and was the only Cal player to reach double-figures scoring.
Cal takes the floor next against No. 15 USC on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT. The Bruins play Stanford next on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. PT.
They will not have Juzang or Clark for Saturday’s game. On Clark’s status, UCLA head coach Mick Cronin suggested it could be some time before he returns. “I’d say not soon, and definitely not Saturday,” Cronin said when asked if there was any more clarity on his situation.
As for Juzang, Cronin said he felt fine, but because he hadn’t previously had the virus he was tested prior to the game and that test forced him to miss. “His random test was today,” Cronin said. “He’s fine, terribly disappointed.” He won’t play Saturday, and his status for next Thursday’s rematch with Arizona in Tucson is uncertain.