Jaime Jaquez Jr. leads UCLA past Oregon to pad its Pac-12 lead
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Its massive males in foul bother, its offense in a funk, its most enjoyable freshman enjoying on a bothersome ankle, UCLA turned to an previous good friend in its time of want.
Hey, Jaime Jaquez Jr., how about some assist?
The senior ahead was comfortable to oblige Saturday evening, exhibiting as soon as once more why he’s the Bruins’ most indispensable participant. He buried jumpers off inbound passes. Threw a nifty bounce go to Adem Bona for a dunk. Then, simply as Oregon sensed it desperately wanted to make a transfer, Jaquez made back-to-back three-pointers.
It was all the pieces seventh-ranked UCLA wanted to energy its strategy to a 70-63 victory over Oregon in what may need been its greatest intestine test of the season.
Jaquez scored 18 of his 25 factors within the second half, together with the knockout blow on a two-handed breakaway dunk after he got here up with a steal, to assist the Bruins (21-4 general, 12-2 Pac-12) prolong their benefit over Arizona to 1½ video games within the convention standings.
“I simply got here to a realization — and we have been simply speaking to the blokes — like that is our final yr right here, we’re going to go down swinging,” mentioned Jaquez, who made seven of 14 photographs within the second half and completed the sport with 12 rebounds. “It’s our final time right here, we didn’t get one at USC so we positively must get one right here earlier than we left.”
UCLA’s first win on Oregon’s dwelling court docket since January 2019 got here after the Bruins opened the second half with a 17-4 surge, involving some smarts and toughness. David Singleton twice tied up Oregon gamers, main to 1 turnover on the alternating possession, and Jaquez twice buried jumpers after taking inbound passes from Tyger Campbell. Jaquez adopted with a fadeaway jumper that staked his staff to an eight-point benefit, its greatest of the sport.
“Our guys proceed to play with unbelievable toughness,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin mentioned. “If it was as simple to play as onerous as the children are enjoying, all people would do it. … With this staff, we thought if we might turn into an excellent defensive staff, we had sufficient firepower to win and win massive.”
Cronin was most happy with a protection that held the Geese to 6 factors over the primary 9 minutes of the second half, stifling them at each flip.
“We knew that we wanted to get stops,” Jaquez mentioned, “and the one approach we have been going to increase our lead was to get stops.”
Oregon followers have been left to generate their very own enjoyable throughout a timeout “Animal Home” video proven on the scoreboard that includes Geese gamers in togas. However even that was short-lived, Jaquez stretching his staff’s result in 53-41 with two straight three-pointers.
“You understand, he’s an NBA participant,” Cronin mentioned. “You understand whenever you obtained one.”
Predictably, the Geese made a late run, stirring hopes of one other wild ending.
Oregon pulled inside 55-46 earlier than Jaylen Clark countered with eight factors in a row for the Bruins and Jaquez adopted together with his steal and dunk with 5 minutes left, sending followers streaming towards the exit.
Clark completed with 13 factors as the one different Bruin in double figures.
Jermaine Couisnard scored 19 factors to guide the Geese (15-11, 9-6), who couldn’t capitalize on the foul bother that haunted UCLA’s entrance line from the sport’s opening minute. Bona and Kenneth Nwuba fouled out, nevertheless it didn’t matter given the standard protection that Mac Etienne performed in an prolonged cameo.
“Unsung star of the sport,” Cronin mentioned. “Not solely did Mac play 14 minutes, he performed them towards N’Faly Dante, who’s the oldest, hardest massive man in our league.”
UCLA trailed 33-30 at halftime with its offense sputtering and Amari Bailey injured after the freshman guard harm his ankle whereas touchdown on an Oregon participant’s foot.
It was a humongous loss provided that Bailey had been the Bruins’ most effective participant to that time, main the staff with eight factors whereas making 4 of six photographs.
In an enormous sigh of aid for UCLA, Bailey returned to begin the second half.
It was a win that might assist place the Bruins for a doable No. 1 seed within the NCAA match, if not their first Pac-12 regular-season championship in a decade.
After his staff failed to drag out wins on the highway at Arizona and USC, Cronin didn’t downplay the importance of the win.
“I believe this was a great win for the gamers for his or her confidence,” Cronin mentioned. “Clearly, they wanted to win immediately, desperately. [The Ducks] have been on the primary 4 groups out [of NCAA tournament projections], we confirmed the staff. It’s UCLA’s coming to city, like, the candles have been lit for the occasion immediately and it’s onerous to win these sorts of video games.”
Jaquez blew out the candles, the Bruins obtained it accomplished, a staff on the rise surging towards March.