Men’s basketball claims victory against Wildcats, completing Arizona road sweep
Redshirt sophomore guard Tyger Campbell led his team with 22 points in UCLA men’s basketball’s victory over Arizona. The Bruins moved to 5-0 in Pac-12 play and remain the only undefeated team in conference games. (Finn Chitwood/Daily Bruin)
By Coral Smith
Jan. 9, 2021 9:23 p.m.
Redshirt sophomore guard Tyger Campbell entered the Bruins’ contest Saturday leading the Pac-12 in assists, but it was his scoring that took the spotlight on his birthday.
UCLA men’s basketball (9-2, 5-0 Pac-12) defeated Arizona (9-3, 3-3) on Saturday night 81-76, sweeping the Arizona schools in the Bruins’ first road trip of conference play. With the win, UCLA preserved its unbeaten conference record, starting Pac-12 play 5-0 for the first time since the 2012-2013 season.
Campbell led the Bruins with 22 points, over double his season average of 10.6. At one point in the first half, Campbell scored 12 consecutive points for the Bruins during a 12-2 run that put his team ahead until six seconds before halftime.
“I was just trying to take what the defense gave me,” Campbell said. “Luckily a couple good shots went in, and I just tried to play off the momentum and keep going.”
UCLA’s big men were limited early on, as redshirt juniors forward Cody Riley and forward/center Jalen Hill combined for just 13 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. Picking up the slack was redshirt sophomore forward Kenneth Nwuba, who contributed nine minutes total, a career-high, before returning to the bench with four fouls of his own.
“(Nwuba) gave us major minutes where we took the lead in the first half,” coach Mick Cronin said. “I told him he was MVP. The guys were pouring water on him in the locker room.”
The foul trouble opened the door for multiple bench players to contribute, as 10 different players saw time in the game, nine of whom scored a field goal.
In addition to Campbell’s effort, two other players scored in the double digits, including sophomore transfer guard Johnny Juzang. Juzang finished with a season-high 16 points, 9 of those coming from the three-point line.
“I was able to get some good looks – I just let it fly,” Juzang said. “I know I can do it, … and I just kind of went out there and played my game.”
Despite leading by as many as 8 points in the second half, UCLA was unable to pull away, and Arizona closed the gap multiple times. But although Arizona sunk three free throws with 6.1 seconds left to shrink the margin to 79-76, that’s as close as the Wildcats would get. Campbell answered with two free throws of his own to seal the deal for UCLA.
The Bruins finished the game 27-32 from the line, something Cronin said he had anticipated would be crucial for the team to succeed at to come out with the win.
“(The Wildcats) play big; they’re extremely physical,” Cronin said. “I knew after (Riley) dominated (against Arizona State) they were going to be all over him. … That said, we made the free throws, and that was going to be the key. I thought we were going to have to get to the line, and we were able to capitalize.”
Next up, UCLA will return to Pauley Pavilion for games versus Washington State and Washington.