UCLA faces Stanford in Pac-12 opener with Bruins sizzling pictures

Identified for being full go in all the things he does, UCLA coach Mick Cronin can be fully happy with one half measure.

His group making 50% of its pictures.

The No. 21 Bruins have achieved that threshold heading into their Pac-12 Convention opener towards Stanford on Thursday night time at Maples Pavilion, capturing 50.4% by their first seven video games.

It’s an unbelievable place to be on condition that UCLA has sustained that form of accuracy over a full season solely as soon as within the final quarter-century. Largely due to the excellent passing of level guard Lonzo Ball, the Bruins shot 52.2% through the 2016-17 season amid a slew of dunks and layups.

What makes the present Bruins (5-2) severe candidates to repeat that feat is a guard-heavy lineup that features keen passers past level guard Tyger Campbell. Amari Bailey’s greatest celebrations have come after spotlight passes, not baskets, the freshman guard punctuating assists with a fast clap or fist pump.

“I enjoy my teammates’ successes more than mine,” stated Bailey, who was the Pac-12 freshman of the week after averaging 15.5 factors and 6 assists throughout victories over Pepperdine and Bellarmine. “So that’s really where that stems from. It’s a team sport. If I wanted to be glorified for my individual play, I would go do swim or tennis.”

Guard Jaylen Clark is expert at discovering his teammates in transition and ahead Jaime Jaquez Jr. is simply as comfortable passing out of a double group as he’s attacking it. Off the bench, the Bruins have two extra keen ball movers in David Singleton and Dylan Andrews.

Even 6-foot-10 freshman middle Adem Bona has confirmed adept at passing, logging three of his group’s season-high 26 assists towards Bellarmine final weekend. It was no coincidence that the Bruins shot a season-high 60.8% whereas making 28 of 35 pictures (80%) contained in the three-point arc, together with three Bona dunks off lobs.

“I’ve been waiting for that all year,” Bona stated with a smile after finishing his first school sport with a number of lob dunks.

Jaquez stated capturing 50% had grow to be an unofficial objective for a group that may notch a victory of kinds simply by making it to tip-off towards the Cardinal.

UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr., proper, shoots over Bellarmine guard Garrett Tipton, left, and ahead Curt Hopf, middle, on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion.

(Alex Gallardo / Related Press)

That is the third season that Pac-12 groups are enjoying one another earlier than Christmas as a part of an expanded 20-game convention schedule; within the first two, UCLA’s opening Pac-12 street sport needed to be postponed due to COVID-19 points.

Two years in the past, a referee examined optimistic for the coronavirus earlier than a sport towards Oregon and the remainder of the officiating crew was barred from working due to contact tracing. Final 12 months, an outbreak of the illness on Washington’s group and training employees compelled a sport towards the Bruins to be postponed till later within the season.

“I just hope we get through playing games,” stated Cronin, whose first three seasons at UCLA all had been disrupted by the pandemic. “It’d be good, have a normal season.”

Clark is predicted to play towards Stanford (3-4) after sitting out the sport towards Bellarmine due to chilly signs, and redshirt freshman Mac Etienne additionally has been cleared after lacking the final sport with plantar fasciitis.

The Cardinal, which has not made the NCAA match since advancing to the Candy 16 in 2013-14, is off to a different sluggish begin underneath coach Jerod Haase, dropping two of three video games final week within the ESPN Occasions Invitational.

Having misplaced its first two video games towards nationally ranked groups, UCLA desires to increase a modest two-game profitable streak earlier than going through No. 22 Maryland and No. 19 Kentucky as a part of an East Coast swing in just a few weeks. Beating the Cardinal is subsequent on the agenda.

“It’s just a huge game for us to be able to go on the road and get a conference win,” Cronin stated, “and you can’t expect to win unless you go in there and outplay them.”