The Bruins are at risk of stringing together their second four-game losing streak of the season.
But interim coach Murry Bartow said they’re done looking in the rearview mirror.
“There’s just no time to sit around and whine about it,” Bartow said. “You’ve got to move to the next game.”
UCLA men’s basketball (12-12, 5-6 Pac-12) will hit the road to take on California (5-18, 0-11) Wednesday night. The Bruins took down the Golden Bears at home in the first weekend of Pac-12 play, putting up a season-high 98 points.
That game was just the second under Bartow, and freshman guard David Singleton – who played a season-high 25 minutes Saturday – said a lot has changed in the five-plus weeks since UCLA’s first meeting with Cal.
“Matchupwise, we’ve just got to go out and we’re not even thinking about the game that happened in January,” Singleton said. “We’re thinking about, ‘OK, we’re going in their house,’ it’s a totally different environment but same mindset – we have to get the job done and handle business.”
While the Bruins have had their fair share of losing spurts this season, the Bears are in the midst of a 12-game losing streak and a winless conference slate. Like UCLA, Cal’s top four scorers are all averaging double-digit points per game, but the Bruins are averaging 78.1 points per game to the Bears’ 70.
UCLA also averages 15.2 assists per game – 4.5 more than Cal – something sophomore guard Chris Smith said the team focused on Saturday when Bartow told the Bruins they had to get to 20 assists against Utah.
“We go into every game trying to get assists and share the ball,” Smith said. “That’s really what we try to do, but that was the first time we put an actual number on it.”
Smith and the Bruins hit Bartow’s benchmark on the dot, giving them their third game of the season with 20 or more assists.
UCLA’s assist leader is sophomore guard Jaylen Hands, who also leads the entire Pac-12 with 6.5 helpers per game. Hands said that despite being five games out of first place in the conference, the Bruins have plenty to play for.
“There’s motivation everywhere,” Hands said. “I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to go out into the next game and … win. I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to go out into the next game and … get better as a player.”
Despite falling under .500 in conference play for the first time since the 2015-16 season, the Bruins are still two games out of second place and a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.
“Win the next game – that’s my goal,” Bartow said. “We still think there’s a lot to play for in terms of seeding in Vegas.”
UCLA and Cal will tip off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night in Haas Pavilion.