This post was updated Dec. 1 at 10:36 p.m.
The Bruins’ offense bounced back in a season-best performance Sunday night.
Behind a season-high 93 points, UCLA men’s basketball (6-3) trounced San Jose State (3-5) 93-64 in a wire-to-wire victory at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins had lost three of their previous four games – averaging 69.3 points during that stretch – and their best-scoring night entering Sunday was a 78-point performance in a losing effort against Hofstra.
UCLA’s highest offensive output of the season comes on the heels of its season-low 62 points against No. 3 Michigan State in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. After notching five assists against Michigan State, UCLA assisted on its first eight half-court field goals and recorded 21 assists total against San Jose State.
“Zone defense forces passing on offense and when we do it, we’re a better team,” said coach Mick Cronin. “In our man-to-man offense, we’re still finding the comfort zone, still trying to get to the point where we move the ball better.”
The Bruins achieved their first 30-point lead of the season with 9:31 remaining in the encounter. It was the Spartans’ third 20-plus-point defeat at the hands of a Pac-12 foe this season after losing by 48 points and 35 points to then-No. 19 Arizona and Oregon State, respectively.
UCLA forced a season-high 20 turnovers, with nine coming off steals and freshman forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. accounting for three of those takeaways on his own. Two of his steals came in the first six minutes of the game, both of which Jaquez took the length of the court for dunks.
The launch zone, brought to you by @jaquez_jr.
— UCLA Basketball (@UCLAMBB) December 2, 2019
“I think it gave us a little bit of a boost,” Jaquez said. “Knowing we could get up into the passing lanes, run the floor, get out and get dunks and layups.”
Jaquez co-led UCLA in scoring with a career-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in his second start of the season. After posting the Bruins’ season-high plus-minus of plus-40, Jaquez checking out for the final time with 9:01 remaining was met with the loudest cheers of the night from the Bruins’ fans.
“I’ve just been talking to (Jaquez) from day one telling him to calm down,” said junior guard Chris Smith. “Today, he was calm. He was seeing the open spots and cutting to the rim. He brought the same energy he brings every single game.”
Jaquez did not turn the ball over in his 21 minutes on the court, but UCLA coughed up the ball 14 times Sunday. That mark was roughly in line with its season average of 13.4, and four of the transgressions came off traveling violations.
“A dead-ball turnover lets you get back on defense; a live-ball turnover, you’ve got no chance,” Cronin said. “We’ve just got to take our time. Sometimes, we’re hell-bent on making an assist on a hard play.”
Redshirt sophomore forward Jalen Hill accounted for two of the Bruins’ travels, and he ended the night with three turnovers. However, Hill was able to contribute 18 points, a team-high 11 rebounds and a career-high-tying four assists.
UCLA will be back at Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 8 to take on Denver at 2 p.m.