UCLA’s 13 straight wins maintain promise for March Madness success

Decide a situation, any situation.

A taut sport that comes all the way down to the final possession. A rout earlier than halftime. Down by double digits early. Forward comfortably after an enormous opening run.

High gamers wrestle. Photographs 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 frequent thread?

UCLA has prevailed in each scenario.

It doesn’t matter what has gone proper or incorrect, the seventh-ranked Bruins have received each sport during the last 7½ weeks.

UCLA’s 13-game profitable 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 match.

Scoffing on the significance of a January profitable streak, UCLA coach Mick Cronin joked that his staff’s latest run and $4 might get any individual a cup of espresso at Starbucks.

But the flexibility to win in so some ways might additionally make the Bruins ideally suited to a Large Dance marathon in March and April, when six consecutive victories can be wanted to stay the final staff standing.

“At a dance contest, you got to be able to dance to every song they play,” Cronin stated Saturday, relaying an outdated saying favored by his 81-year-old father, Hep.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 file however, the Bruins are usually not a dominant staff. They don’t seem to be blessed with knockdown shooters outdoors of senior guard David Singleton. Their offense is susceptible to prolonged lulls.

None of that has derailed UCLA since its solely two losses of the season, in opposition to Illinois and Baylor in late November.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin instructs his gamers throughout a win over Colorado on Saturday.

(Ashley Landis / Related Press)

The formulation that has sustained the Bruins ever since hasn’t wavered. Defend like loopy. Transfer 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 received 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. stated, “as long as we stopped them from scoring.”

In contrast to 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 informed that Jaquez’s 10 deflections had been another than his whole in opposition to Utah final week, guard Jaylen Clark wished to rewatch footage of the sport to ensure.

“Jaylen takes it personal,” Cronin stated, “if someone has more than him.”

Bruins guard Jaylen Clark (0) celebrates with teammate Tyger Campbell during a timeout Saturday.

Bruins guard Jaylen Clark (0) celebrates with teammate Tyger Campbell throughout a timeout Saturday.

(Ashley Landis / Related Press)

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 staff’s bench depth.

Towards Colorado, UCLA’s reserves took solely two pictures and went scoreless. They might shrug and smile afterward given the end result.

What has happy Cronin most about his staff’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 bought a cease on its final defensive sequence.

“You’re going to have to do that,” Cronin stated, “if you’re going to advance in March.”

UCLA owns the identical file that it did at this level final season on the best way to falling to North Carolina within the Candy 16. That staff relied closely on the taking pictures of Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard, who’ve each moved on, however 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. Throughout their profitable streak, the Bruins have held opponents to 57.1 factors per sport.

Protection usually triggers offense, the Bruins getting out on the quick break for layups after steals. Towards Colorado, they scored 25 factors off 23 compelled turnovers. Effectivity on each ends of the court docket makes this staff 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 stated. “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.”

More durable battles loom, together with a three-game journey that includes checks in opposition to 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 driving them — the Bruins can rely on one consequence. They received’t give up.