May 22, 2022

No. 7 UCLA hosts Cal in 2nd leg of 3-game homestand

View Original Notice ? No. 7 UCLA hosts Cal in 2nd leg of 3-game homestand

The first hurdle of UCLA’s busy week came Tuesday night in the form of a Pac-12 showdown with third-ranked Arizona, and it couldn’t have gone much better for Coach Mick Cronin’s crew as they cruised to a 75-59 win at a re-energized Pauley Pavilion.

The proverbial race of a college basketball season includes many segments, but something about this three-game homestand seems pivotal to the launch angle of the seventh-ranked Bruins heading into February with talks of March already lurking.

“The problem with my guys is I know they have another gear; they just haven’t given it to me yet,” Cronin said. “We got five guys back from last year’s Final Four team, and we beat Villanova at the beginning of the year, but we didn’t play like (Tuesday night).

“You can’t wait on the tournament (to hit the extra gear).”

Cronin didn’t specify which gear his team reached in the double-digit win over Arizona, but it made him happy.

“It would be nice if we played like that every night,” he said during the postgame press conference.

Cronin will surely be guarding against overconfidence when UCLA (14-2 overall, 6-1 Pac-12) hosts Cal (9-10, 2-6) on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Bruins, who host Stanford (11-6, 4-3) on Saturday night, defeated the Golden Bears, 60-52, on Jan. 8 in Berkeley.

UCLA (8-1 at home) has won four in a row and seems to be hitting its stride.

The fans are back in the arena. NCAA Tournament hero Johnny Juzang is draining 3-pointers. Freshman Peyton Watson is blossoming. Point guard Tyger Campbell can’t be flustered. Big man Cody Riley is playing like a savvy veteran. Jules Bernard is shooting with confidence. And, of course, Jaime Jaquez Jr. is unfazed by any physical challenge he faces, including 7-foot-1 Arizona center Christian Koloko.

“I haven’t seen Jaime jump that high in three years,” Cronin said. “He had three blocked shots, are you kidding me? He blocked one and I couldn’t believe it was him.”

Cal is on a five-game losing streak and is winless on the road this season (0-4). The Bears’ last outing was against Arizona, which resulted in a 96-71 loss in Tucson.

CAL (9-10, 2-6) AT NO. 7 UCLA (14-2, 6-1)

Where: Pauley Pavilion

When: Thursday, 6 p.m.

TV/radio: Pac-12 Networks / 570 AM

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