No. 5 UCLA finds a solution to maintain off Arizona State

Simply preserve discovering a means.

That was the mandate for UCLA on Thursday evening, the fifth-ranked Bruins teetering late of their Pac-12 Convention showdown with Arizona State whereas endangering the nation’s longest successful streak amongst main convention groups.

Extending the streak would maintain the midseason enjoyable whereas additionally stopping the Solar Devils from shifting right into a tie atop the convention standings. It could additionally put UCLA midway to a desert sweep that ESPN’s Joe Lunardi mentioned might vault the workforce to a projected No. 1 seed within the NCAA match.

Every little thing remained in play after the Bruins’ newest escape, a 74-62 victory at Desert Monetary Enviornment that got here courtesy of extra late gutsy play.

Smothered for many of an evening through which he bricked two layups and back-to-back free throws, UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. buried a three-pointer late within the shot clock to provide his workforce a six-point lead with about 21/2 minutes left. He added a turnaround jumper to increase the benefit as a part of a game-ending 16-2 run.

“I knew my shot was going to fall when it needed to fall,” mentioned Jaquez, who might smile after making solely 4 of 12 pictures for 9 factors. “I’m not really worried about that.”

The Bruins (17-2 total, 8-0 Pac-12) wanted the supplementary offense with Tyger Campbell and David Singleton carrying such a heavy load. Campbell led his workforce with 22 factors and Singleton had 21 whereas making 4 of six three-pointers.

The highest scorers additionally led the celebration of their workforce’s 14th consecutive victory, Campbell rapping his brow with clenched fists and Singleton cupping his hand to an ear whereas taking a look at a file scholar part of 5,213 that had grown silent within the near-sellout crowd of 13,363.

“It’s been fun flying under the radar the last couple of months,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin mentioned whereas addressing solely two reporters after a sport that was referred to as by distant FS1 broadcasters. “Because of what happened in [Las] Vegas, I think people gave up on us.”

Cronin was alluding to his workforce’s two losses, which got here in a span of three days in late November. Illinois and Baylor prevailed over the Bruins largely due to success making three-pointers, a formulation that Arizona State (15-4, 6-2) tried to duplicate.

The Solar Devils made 9 of twenty-two pictures from past the arc, together with one from Frankie Collins that pushed them right into a 60-58 lead earlier than UCLA commenced its closing surge. Arizona State’s late-game execution faltered in opposition to a protection that tightened significantly.

Solar Devils guard DJ Horne went scoreless within the second half after blistering the Bruins for 14 factors by halftime.

UCLA’s Jamie Jaquez Jr. (24) is greeted by Dylan Andrews (2) after hitting a three-pointer in opposition to Arizona State late within the second half on Thursday in Tempe, Ariz.

(Darryl Webb / Related Press)

“We’re one of the best defensive teams in the country,” Cronin mentioned after Arizona State closed the sport by making solely one in all its final eight pictures, “and we’ve proven it over this winning streak.”

In some way, shorthanded as soon as once more with Amari Bailey sitting out a sixth consecutive sport due to discomfort in his left foot, the Bruins stored discovering the vitality to come back again.

Trailing by as many as six factors, the Bruins moved right into a 58-57 lead with 6:34 left when freshman heart Adem Bona made one in all two free throws after a Singleton nook three-pointer had tied the rating. A number of of Singleton’s pictures got here off passes from Jaquez, who logged 5 assists whereas discovering the open teammate.

“They tend to swarm and attack the dribbler,” Cronin mentioned, “and the game plan was when they do that to find Dave.”

UCLA additionally needed to squeeze extra manufacturing out of a bench that had been held scoreless final weekend in opposition to Colorado. That mission was doubly essential contemplating Arizona State’s rotation goes 10 deep.

Freshman guard Dylan Andrews supplied a prompt the bench with 5 fast factors within the first half — plus a technical foul for obvious taunting after he received twisted up in midair with Arizona State’s Devan Cambridge on a dunk and mentioned one thing to his Solar Devils counterpart earlier than heading again down the court docket.

Andrews completed with seven factors, all coming together with his workforce trailing.

“Dylan’s baskets tonight, huge,” Cronin mentioned. “I’m talking about against a real team, in this environment, it gives you a lot of confidence for his future.”

A notable reinforcement might arrive earlier than the top of the weekend. Cronin mentioned Bailey seemed good within the workforce’s shootaround Thursday and may be capable to play in opposition to Arizona on Saturday relying on how he felt Friday.