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No. 7 UCLA flies over California for 5th straight win

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No. 7 UCLA flies over California for 5th straight win

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No, Johnny Juzang meant opportunities for UCLA bench players, and they took advantage of it.

Led by Jaime Jaquez Jr. with 15 points, the seventh-ranked Bruins beat California 81-57 ​​Thursday night to grab the top spot in the Pac-12 with their fifth straight victory.

All but one of 10 UCLA players scored on a night Juzang was sidelined by COVID-19 protocols. Cody Riley added a season-high 14 points, and Jules Bernard and Peyton Watson had 12 points each.

Jake Kyman had 10 points and three steals in 20 minutes, and David Singleton had five points, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 29 minutes off the bench.

“It was the next-man mentality,” said Jaquez, who had four of UCLA’s 14 interceptions. “We have a really deep team. When guys have opportunities, they step in. Guys like Jake and David have really stepped up and helped us get that W.”

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UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (24) shoots against California forward Grant Anticevich (15) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles on Thursday January 27, 2022.
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

UCLA (15-2, 7-1 Pac-12) avoided a disappointment after its 75-59 win over No. 3 Arizona two nights earlier. That game drew a crowd of over 11,000, which fell to 7,457 for Cal.

“It might be easy after a game like Arizona to turn around, but we came out with an intensity like we’ve done before and just tried to save that for this game,” Jaquez said.

UCLA led by 18 points in the first half. The Bruins went 10-0, 8-0 and 6-0 while the Golden Bears committed nine of 17 turnovers.

Cal (9-11, 2-7) lost its sixth straight high. The Bears were led by rookie Sam Alajiki with 11 points in his second start of the season. Kuany Kuany and Jordan Shepherd each had nine points. Andre Kelly, the team’s second leading scorer, and fellow starter Jalen Celestine were both fouled in the second half.

The Bears let UCLA shoot 53%.

“Our defense is out right now and we have to find it,” Bears coach Mark Fox said. “We have to be able to roll up our sleeves and do the dirty work on the defensive side first, which will help us on the attacking side.”

The Bruins went to the line on four straight possessions in the second half, making 6 of 8 free throws for a 65-45 lead.

Kyman and Watson have combined to score 14 of UCLA’s last 17 points. The Bruins finished the game with three straight 3-pointers, two in a row by Kyman and one by Russell Stong, who came off the bench after the student section repeatedly shouted, “We want Russell!”

“Russell and Jake work really hard every day,” Watson said. “We see him every day in training. We’re just happy everyone can see him.”

The Bruins have lost only once — in Oregon — since returning from a 25-day layoff due to COVID-19 issues in the program. They are 9-1 at home.

BIG PICTURE

California: The Bears have just one win so far in 2022, beating Arizona State by 24 points on Jan. 2. This ended a five-game winning streak before their current struggles set in. The calendar doesn’t get any easier. The Bears are on the road for seven of their 14 remaining league games and are yet to win away in seven games.

UCLA: The Bruins won’t bring Juzang back in time for their third game of the week on Saturday. Coach Mick Cronin said the junior keeper took a random test which came back positive, although he is feeling fine. But winning without Juzang gave the team a huge boost of confidence. UCLA is also expecting Jaylen Clark, who has missed two straight games during concussion protocol. Cronin said he is not expected anytime soon.

FOLLOWING

California: At Stanford on Tuesday in the first of three games next week.

UCLA: Host Stanford on Saturday to close a three-game homestand.

No. 7 UCLA flies over California for 5th straight win

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