Los Angeles, LA—If UCLA wants to extend their season into the NCAA Tournament play they have to find a way to play a cleaner basketball game.
Ninth-ranked UCLA (18-4, 9-2 Pac-12) beat Washington (13-11, 5-8) 70-61 at Pauley Pavilion, it was a huge confidence booster for the Bruins who has been playing in a little funk of late.
The Bruins completed a season sweep of the Huskies and stopped a two-game skid that had followed a 14-game winning streak. UCLA won their 20th straight home contest dating to last season and remained in first place in the PAC-12 Conference standings.
UCLA beat the Huskies 79-49 last month and has won eight straight in the series.
“Eighteen turnovers to me, would be like to other coaches what is 25,” UCLA head coach Mick Cronin said. It’s beyond unacceptable. Our supposed best two players had nine turnovers. Those two single-handedly let the other team back in the game with their carelessness with the ball.”
Bruins forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. had four turnovers, but had a double-double of 15 points and 10 boards.
UCLA dominated the blocks in the first half, scoring 26 of its first 30 points in the paint. However, the Bruins were careless with the ball, finishing with 18 turnovers. Tyger Campbell and Bailey each had five turnovers and Jaquez had four.
The Huskies got behind early and didn’t score for a six-minute stretch. Braxton Meah rim rocker ended that drought and pull his team within 26-10 with 6:44 left in the first half. Washington went into the locker down 38-22.
“In the second half I thought we shared the ball, and Keion Brooks did a great job on isolations and moving the ball,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. “You have to make shots. In the first half, we were 2 for 14 from the 3-point line. You’re not going to win too many games shooting that percentage.”
UCLA struggled to defend the perimeter allowing Washington to make six of twelve long treys during the second half. Brooks was a problem for the Bruins with 23 points on nine-for-17 shooting.
After UCLA was outscored 39-32 in the second half, Jaquez said the Bruins were trying too hard to be perfect on offense rather than just taking good shots.
“If you have an open shot, I think at this point in the year you just got to take ’em,” Jaquez said. “And I think that’s something that we’re gonna look back at the film and see and hopefully improve for the next game.”
Washington, who finished with 20 turnovers of their own — cut the lead to seven points several times in the second half but never got closer.
The Bruins led by as many as 18 points, UCLA found themselves up only seven with 3½ minutes to go. But Washington’s Keion Brooks Jr. air mailed a three-pointer and the Bruins made enough free throws down the stretch to avoid the upset.
“If you turn the ball over they get out in transition and you don’t have a chance to get back and get your defense set up,” Jacquez said. “Ball security dictates a lot of your offense and defense in the second half. We just didn’t have that.”
UCLA will be home against Washington State on Saturday, Feb 4. for a 7:00 P.M start time.