Men’s basketball falls to Ohio State, snapping five-game winning streak
Redshirt junior forward Cody Riley scored a team-high 15 points in UCLA men’s basketball’s loss to No. 20 Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic on Saturday. Riley also recorded five rebounds in the losing effort. (David Rimer/Daily Bruin staff)
|No. 20 Ohio State||77|
By Sam Connon
Dec. 19, 2020 5:01 p.m.
The Buckeyes had fallen silent from deep after a hot start, but their resurgence from behind the arc helped them sink the Bruins in Cleveland.
UCLA men’s basketball (5-2, 1-0 Pac-12) fell to No. 20 Ohio State (6-1, 0-1 Big Ten) 77-70 on Saturday, despite leading 63-61 with just over six minutes left in the game. Back-to-back 3s by Buckeye guard Eugene Brown III helped them vault ahead, and the Bruins were unable to make up the gap down the stretch.
“Inexcusable mental breakdowns,” said coach Mick Cronin on the sequence. “And stuff like that in a game like this, that’s what the game’s decided by.”
Prior to those two triples by Brown, Ohio State had missed six of its last seven 3s.
The Buckeyes’ 12-4 run helped them take a lead they would hold onto for the rest of the game, but they fell off from the field in the final minutes. Ohio State didn’t hit a field goal for the final 3:53, scoring all six of their points in that span from the free throw line.
The Bruins, who shot 48.1% in the first half, hit one field goal in the final 4:17, and they were unable to capitalize on their opponent’s dropoff in the final minutes.
“We settled for some hard shots, their physicality bothered us,” Cronin said. “We didn’t trust our teammates and make the extra pass, we took some really hard shots.”
The six-straight missed shots by the Bruins in that stretch were split evenly between sophomore guard Johnny Juzang, sophomore guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. and redshirt sophomore guard Tyger Campbell, who shot a combined 25% from the field in the game.
Juzang started the game 3-of-3 from the field, scoring the Bruins’ first six points after shooting 3-of-12 against Marquette on Dec. 10. The Kentucky transfer’s hot hand disappeared for the rest of the night, as he went 2-of-10 from the field after his perfect start.
Senior guard Chris Smith failed to crack double-digit points for the third time in four games, and he shot 2-of-8 from the field. His 20 minutes were his fewest since Feb. 2 of last season, and Cronin attributed that to the Buckeyes throwing him off his rhythm.
“Anything I do – call a play, call a timeout, lineups – is to try to win the game,” Cronin said. “That being said, this game was extremely physical, I think that bothered (Smith).”
Even with those four starters falling quiet for most of the game, UCLA was plus-11 on second-chance points, plus-eight on points in the paint and plus-four on points off turnovers. That wasn’t enough for Cronin though, and he said he believed Ohio State played with more toughness.
“The stat sheet didn’t decide this game,” Cronin said. “I thought toughness and playing smart and all the things us coaches talk about decided this game.”
The Bruins didn’t lead through the first 12 minutes of the game, but the Buckeyes were unable to separate. Ohio State never led by more than six in the opening half, despite starting the game 5-of-11 from 3-point range compared to UCLA’s 2-of-6 mark in the first.
The two teams were never separated by more than one score in the final eight minutes of the first half, and the Buckeyes’ nine-point lead with 28 seconds left in the game was the largest lead held by either team all night.
A close game doesn’t show up as a win in the standings though, and the Bruins’ five-game winning streak is over. Citing missed layups, failed box outs and more, Cronin said they had it coming.
“The basketball gods get you,” Cronin said. “To me, you deserve to lose when those types of things happen.”