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UCLA men’s basketball to take on Maryland to kick off home-and-home series

Senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. dribbles the ball. Jaquez and No. 16 UCLA men’s basketball will head east for a matchup with No. 20 Maryland on Wednesday. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

Men's basketball


No. 20 Maryland
Wednesday, 6 p.m.

College Park, MD
FS1

By Francis Moon

Dec. 13, 2022 12:38 p.m.

The Bruins will get a chance to familiarize themselves with one of their future conference rivals Wednesday.

For the first time in 40 years, No. 16 UCLA men’s basketball (8-2, 2-0 Pac-12) will travel to College Park, Maryland, to take on No. 20 Maryland (8-2, 1-1 Big Ten) as the first part of a home-and-home series. The Bruins last met the Terrapins in 2007 on a neutral court in Kansas City, with the blue and gold emerging victorious to extend its lead in the all-time series to 6-2.

Once UCLA moves to the Big Ten in 2024 – pending the outcome of the UC Regents meeting also Wednesday – the two teams will match up much more regularly.

“It’ll be a great atmosphere, great opportunity to play in a raucous environment,” said coach Mick Cronin. “We get a taste of the league we’re going to be in.”

The Terps are led by first-year coach Kevin Willard, who spent time with Cronin when they were both assistant coaches at Louisville from 2001-2003. Cronin praised his longtime friend’s leadership after he brought the team back into the AP Top 25 a few weeks ago after entering the season unranked.

“Kevin and I have overlapped for a long time, enough to know that he sandbags in golf, rarely picks up a check,” Cronin said. “Kevin was able to hire a great staff, I know all of those guys. … He’s always been a great coach, they run great stuff on offense.”

Though Willard’s tenure in College Park kicked off seamlessly with eight straight wins – including over then-No. 16 Illinois, who handed the Bruins their first loss of the season – Maryland most recently dropped back-to-back contests against then-unranked Wisconsin and then-No. 7 Tennessee last week.

The two losses came by a combined eight points, as the Terps were unable to complete either comeback after falling behind by double digits in both games. Similarly, the Bruins’ two losses came by single digits in consecutive games against ranked opponents in Las Vegas three weeks ago, though they have rattled off five straight wins since.

Fifth-year guard David Singleton said the Bruins will have to learn from their mistakes to avoid shooting themselves in the foot in their third opportunity to pick up a ranked win.

“We can’t play a perfect game, no one ever has,” Singleton said. “But if we make one mistake, you can’t compound it by making another mistake or a snowball effect will happen.”

Guard Jahmir Young paces the Terps in the scoring department with 15.6 points per game, while leading his squad with 3.4 assists per contest. Forward Donta Scott, who Cronin specifically praised after first watching him play in high school, trails close behind with 14.1 points per game.

“I fell in love with him (Scott), but he had already signed with Maryland,” Cronin said. “He’s a wing playing power forward but he shoots 3s, he drives the ball, he just gives them unbelievable toughness. … He’s a winner, through and through.”

Forward Julian Reese leads the team on the glass by hauling in 7.6 boards a night while ranking among the country’s leaders in field goal percentage with a 75% clip. Guards Hakim Hart and Don Carey round out Maryland’s starting five, with the former knocking down 43.2% of his long-range shots.

The matchup will mark just the second true road game of the season for the Bruins, who will be playing in front of a likely sold-out crowd at the XFINITY Center. Senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. said the team welcomes the pressure and environment of playing in front of a hostile crowd.

“We want it to be roaring whether it’s for us or against us,” Jaquez said. “Sometimes it’s even more fun when they’re rooting against you.”

Tipoff will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

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Francis Moon | Sports senior staff
Moon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, track and field and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and women's tennis beats, while also contributing for Arts. He is a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
Moon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, track and field and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and women's tennis beats, while also contributing for Arts. He is a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
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