On Thursday, I suggested that UCLA needed to switch their focus towards getting right for March by giving some guys rest while others got more playing time. I guess a blowout is one way to accomplish that.
The UCLA Bruins beat Oregon State by almost 40 points, winning by a final score of 94-55. Even that score belies the tenor of this game, as the Bruins never truly felt threatened. That should have been expected - Oregon State is the worst team in the conference this year - but road wins have been a struggle for the Bruins to secure of late, so this was still a good result.
That said, it’s hard to really take anything of note from a game like this. With the game out of reach, Mick Cronin was able to bench many of his starters (though Jaime Jaquez still somehow played the most minutes with 27) and get some extended run for guys like Jake Kyman and Kenneth Nwuba. There’s again the question of minutes allocation between Cody Riley and Myles Johnson, especially as Johnson combined with Jaylen Clark to absolutely shut down Oregon State’s offense, but at least in this game, you can rationalize it as Cronin trying to get Riley going offensively. That bet seemed to pay off, as it were - Cody Riley ended up with 13 points on 5-9 shooting and looked much better than he had in weeks.
The story will probably be the shooting for many. Two days after shooting an abysmal 36.8% against Oregon, the Bruins shot 58.6% from the field against the Beavers. Three-point shooting was similarly improved, as UCLA had gone 4-24 on Thursday night but went 13-20 today. Some of that is due to the opponent - Oregon State is nowhere near as talented or athletic as Oregon, which meant that UCLA did not have as much trouble generating open looks - but credit should still go to the Bruins for locking in during what could have been a big let-down game.
Tyger Campbell led the Bruins with 20 points and five assists. Jules Bernard, Peyton Watson, and David Singleton led the team with five rebounds apiece. Maurice Calloo led the Beavers with 13 points.
Player of the Game: Tyger Campbell - Campbell had a great bounce-back game, and looks recovered from the shoulder injury that was bothering him last week. Campbell had a team-high 20 points on a crazy-efficient 8-10 from the field to go along with five assists. While he defense wasn’t stellar, he was much more active, which is exactly what he needs to be doing. More of this, please.
Defense to Offense - Oregon State only had 12 turnovers, which even the commentators felt was low considering how play had gone. That said, UCLA was able to turn their excellent defense into easy offensive looks. The Bruins were able to score 25 points off of those Beaver turnovers, to say nothing of the points they made after forcing contested shots. This is UCLA at its best: when they can get easy offense out of their excellent defense.
Jaylen Clark Remains a Problem - Not a UCLA problem, mind you, but a problem for opposing teams. Clark’s resurgence in these last few weeks has created a conundrum for opposing teams. On offense, they basically are forced to play four on four while assuming Clark is going to shut down his assignment (this issue is compounded when Myles Johnson is on the floor). On defense, while Clark is not a consistent outside shooter, his energy and attacking play means he is a terror on the boards and can get a lot of easy points, as seen by his 5-7 outing today for 10 points. Before the season, Mick Cronin said that Clark had made a huge leap and would be a factor. Now that he’s past his injury issues, it’s great to see Clark living up to that hype.
UCLA will finish up this ridiculous road trip on Monday when they play a make-up game against Washington. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 PM PT.