Fresh off a wild comeback win in its return to Pac-12 Conference play, No. 11-ranked UCLA takes a nine-game winning streak into Seattle for a New Year’s Day matchup with Washington.
UCLA (12-2, 3-0 Pac-12) trailed for almost the entirety of Friday’s visit to Washington State — 35:18 of the game’s 40 minutes — but a Tyger Campbell steal led to a goaltending call on Adem Bona’s layup attempt on the other end, giving the Bruins a 67-66 win in Pullman, Wash.
The Bruins’ narrow escape in their first Pac-12 game since beating Oregon on Dec. 4 was also their first game decided by a single-digit margin since that contest.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. posted a game-high 20 points and a team-high eight rebounds in the win, taking over down the stretch with eight of his points over the final 6:27 to help erase a nine-point deficit.
“It just shows the toughness of this team and how far we’ve come,” Jaquez said, per the Los Angeles Times, following the win. “We could have easily folded but we didn’t. We decided to stick it out, play defense and work and do whatever we can to get back in this game.”
Jaquez’s 17.2 points per game pace the balanced UCLA offense, which boasts four players in the double digits. Three — Jaquez, Campbell and David Singleton — were the Bruins’ leading scorers on Friday.
Campbell finished with 16 points and Singleton added 14 points in just his second start of the season. Typically a spark plug off the UCLA bench, Singleton filled in for Amari Bailey, who was sidelined with a left foot injury.
For Washington (9-5, 1-2), Sunday’s matchup continues a critical stretch for its NCAA Tournament aspirations. The Huskies lost at home to a then-Top 25-ranked Auburn team on Dec. 21.
UCLA’s visit precedes another showdown with a highly ranked opponent, current No. 5 Arizona on the road on Jan. 5.
The Huskies pulled ahead of USC midway through the second half on Friday, 58-55, before enduring a scoreless drought of almost five minutes. Washington went more than eight minutes without a field goal as the Trojans pulled away for an 80-67 win.
Keion Brooks scored 22 points in the loss, bumping his season average to 17.1 points per game. Brooks shot just 6 of 21 from the floor, however, reflective of a poor 22-for-68 shooting night (a season-low 32.4 percent) for the Huskies overall.
“We had it rolling there for a minute and we just kind of let go of the rope and they continued to put pressure on us in the paint,” Brooks told the Seattle Times following the loss. USC outscored Washington in the paint, 42-22.
Keyon Menifield scored 18 points on 8-for-16 shooting. Friday marked the freshman Menifield’s highest-scoring game since piling up 21 and 26 points back-to-back in Washington’s wins over North Florida and Utah Tech on Nov. 11 and Nov. 14, respectively.
The loss marked Washington’s sixth straight to USC, matching the streak of consecutive losses the Huskies have piled up against UCLA ahead of Sunday’s meeting. Washington last beat a UCLA team in February 2019.
–Field Level Media