Amari Bailey might hear the insults coming from the opposing bench.
UCLA’s freshman guard was referred to as a nonshooter. The protection he noticed mirrored these phrases, gamers sagging off to present him additional room to shoot whereas guarding in opposition to drives towards the basket.
Pepperdine’s recreation plan was not with out some advantage. Bailey had been comparatively quiet for the primary 5 video games of his faculty profession, together with struggles in his first two matchups in opposition to nationally ranked groups.
This was totally different.
In case anybody wanted any reminders as to why he was rated as one of many nation’s high highschool prospects, Bailey offered one after one other Wednesday night time at Pauley Pavilion.
Offering an enormous elevate on an evening the Bruins’ protection returned to its common stifling kind, Bailey scored a career-high 19 factors to energy the No. 19 Bruins to a 100-53 victory that foiled Pepperdine’s grand defensive plans.
“If you watch the film, they went under the screen and I kind of felt like it was disrespectful, like they were giving me plenty of feet to shoot the ball,” Bailey stated, “so I was just taking what the defense was giving me.”
That included displaying the numerous methods he can contribute.
Bailey regularly fed freshman middle Adem Bona for dunks, as soon as on a bounce move, a second time on a wraparound move beneath the basket and a 3rd time on a lob. He hit all three three-pointers he took. And he did, in actual fact, beat the protection designed to cease his drives, accelerating previous a helpless counterpart for a layup.
“We’ve been talking about this for a long time, that you’re not to get to the rim at this level, they’re going to force you to make shots, which he can do,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin stated. “You know, he’s just got to accept it and it’s an adjustment. But you saw he was looking to catch and shoot.
“Once he started getting it going, everybody — our whole team — started looking for him. We were starting to run plays for him.”
Bailey made seven of 12 photographs to go along with 4 assists and three rebounds in opposition to zero turnovers to guide six Bruins in double figures scoring.
UCLA ahead Jaime Jaquez Jr. contributed 17 factors and eight rebounds whereas guard David Singleton added 13 factors off the bench.
For Bailey, it was a powerful bounce-back effort after he had averaged three factors and two turnovers whereas capturing 20% final weekend throughout back-to-back losses.
“For guys like Adem and Amari, you can’t even imagine the pressure those kids are under,” Cronin stated. “I do because you can cut it with a knife. I just try to simplify life for guys like that, just keep playing hard, keep being coachable and it will all happen for you.”
UCLA’s misplaced weekend had left it with a transparent mandate when it returned to its house court docket: repair the protection.
Sagging second-half efforts during which UCLA surrendered 51 factors to Illinois and 43 to Baylor had prompted Cronin to voice his displeasure so loudly that he might be heard two rooms away after the second consecutive defeat.
Three days later, there was a a lot sweeter sound. It was the Bruins’ palms regularly slapping balls for deflections and steals whereas forcing 5 turnovers throughout a decisive first-half stretch during which they turned a two-point deficit right into a 15-point benefit.
As common, Jaylen Clark, UCLA’s designated stopper, was in the course of practically the whole lot his crew did defensively.
A Clark steal led to a Jaquez spin transfer within the lane for a layup. Clark then received the ball again for his crew by forcing Pepperdine’s Maxwell Lewis right into a turnover alongside the baseline.
UCLA (4-2) sustained its robust defensive play by holding the Waves (4-2) to 35% capturing general and simply 24 factors within the second half.
“Our effort to guard the ball starting at the point of attack, our ball pressure was better than it’s been all year,” Cronin stated. “We understood if we let them get comfortable and in rhythm with the way they shoot the ball, we were going to be in trouble.”
In the end, it was the Waves who endangered themselves by underestimating a younger Bruin, resulting in a breakthrough.