UCLA pulls away from Long Beach State with dominant 2nd half

View Original Notice ? UCLA pulls away from Long Beach State with dominant 2nd half

LOS ANGELES — For a moment, there was a sense of concern.

Long Beach State guards Joel Murray and Colin Slater were putting on a show that indicated an upset bid was on their mind. Perhaps, the quick, savvy guards who combined for 57 points could catch UCLA on a droopy Monday night after the exhilaration of Friday night’s victory over fourth-ranked Villanova had worn off, and a matchup with top-ranked Gonzaga just a week away.

Some might call it a trap game.

But the second-ranked Bruins took control in the second half and ran away with an eventual 100-79 victory to close out their third straight home game to start the season at Pauley Pavilion.

Johnny Juzang led UCLA with 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting. Jules Bernard tallied 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds in 36 minutes. Jaime Jaquez Jr. scored 17 points, Tyger Campbell had 14 points and six assists, and Jaylen Clark added 10 points and six rebounds.

Murray finished with a game-high 30 points (and nine of his team’s 25 turnovers), and Slater scored 27 on 10-of-13 shooting, including five 3-pointers.

“We gave up 57 points to two players, and that’s obviously unacceptable,” Bernard said.

The energy of the postgame press conference felt like that of a loss even though the Bruins won by 21. UCLA coach Mick Cronin wasn’t pleased.

“If I had a pair of sneakers, I think I could have scored on some of our guys tonight,” he said.

Murray scored 28 points in Long Beach’s season opener last week, so his production was somewhat expected, but it was Slater’s performance in the first half that had the fans in Pauley Pavilion gasping. Slater made six straight shots, including three 3-pointers.

“I’ve got to give congratulations to Murray and Slater,” Cronin said. “Those guys played great. Give them a lot of credit. I’ve been doing this long enough, you’ve got to give other people credit. So, good for those kids.”

It was part of a 12-0 run for Long Beach (1-1), and a stretch of 10 consecutive made shots. UCLA’s 23-16 lead turned into a 28-23 deficit with 7:16 left in the opening half. Campbell hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help UCLA regain the lead, 31-28, but Slater struck again with a blow-by layup around Bernard to knot the score at 36-36 at the 3:51 mark.

Long Beach shot 69% in the first half and finished the game at 58%, but the high percentage is deceiving. LBSU’s 14 turnovers in the second half contributed to UCLA’s 78 total shots, 23 more than Long Beach’s 55. The 25 total turnovers (by Long Beach) were the most forced in one game by UCLA since Nov. 12, 2010 (vs. CSUN), when the Bruins forced 27 turnovers.

“We just have to get better,” Long Beach coach Dan Molson said. “We showed that we could compete against good teams for stretches, but the game is 40 minutes. We competed well in large stretches, but we just have to put it all together.”

The Bruins’ narrow 48-45 lead at halftime ballooned to a 14-point lead after they started the second half on a 16-5 run. Their suffocating defense, which didn’t seem to make an appearance in the first half, was finally on display. The Bruins led 78-62 after a Jaquez Jr. layup at the 10-minute mark of the second half. UCLA led by at least 12 the remaining six minutes of the game.

“We have a team where everyone is returning, so we know the level that we’re capable of playing at,” Juzang said. “So, just winning a game isn’t always going to satisfy us. It’s how you performed… . You know when you’ve made too many mistakes.”


Juzang was voted the Pac-12 Player of the Week Monday after averaging 22 points and six rebounds per game through the Bruins’ first two games, including a 25-point, 8-rebound performance in the win over fourth-ranked Villanova Friday night 86-77 in overtime.

Its Juzang’s second time earning the honor in his career. He was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week on Feb. 15, 2021. Juzang was the only UCLA player to secure Player of the Week honors last season.

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