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Despite season-high turnovers, UCLA men’s basketball brings victory home against Washington

Freshman guard Amari Bailey dribbles around a screen. No. 9 UCLA men’s basketball never trailed in a wire-to-wire win over Washington in Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night. The Bruins’ 16-point halftime lead shrunk to single digits in the second half as their offense regressed, but UCLA hung on to snap its two-game losing streak. Bailey notched 13 points in the game but also posted five turnovers. (Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Men’s basketball


Washington61
No. 9 UCLA70

By Bryan Palmero

Feb. 2, 2023 10:00 p.m.

Just like their last game, it was an offensive outburst for the Bruins in the first half and a much different story in the second.

Once again, turnovers were to blame.

After leading by as much as 18 points in the opening period, No. 9 UCLA men’s basketball (18-4, 9-2 Pac-12) survived a second-half surge from Washington (13-11, 5-8) to seal a 70-61 win in Pauley Pavilion on Thursday night. Tallying a season-high 18 turnovers in the victory, the Bruins coughed up the ball 10 times in the final 20 minutes.

“Eighteen turnovers to me is like 25 to other coaches, so beyond unacceptable,” said coach Mick Cronin. 

After back-to-back contests shooting under 36% from the field, the Bruins posted a 49.1% clip – their second-best performance of 2023. Much of the shooting came early and from an unexpected contributor.

One game removed from missing all seven of his shots in a loss to USC, Jaylen Clark secured the opening tip and immediately scooped in a layup. 

For good measure, the junior guard sliced through Washington’s 2-3 zone defense on two more occasions to start off shooting 3-for-3. His teammates were finding the hole as well, with freshman guard Amari Bailey and senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. each tallying eight points in the first half alone.

The hot shooting, however, was short-lived.

“We’re trying a little bit too hard to just try to get the best shot every time,” Jaquez said. “And in a basketball game, you’re not always going to get the best look.”

Like games of recent memory, the Bruins and their 16-point halftime lead started to sputter in the second period.

“Coasting is never a part of the plan – or any game plan of ours. (We’re) really just trying to again put together two great halves,” Bailey said. “We didn’t do that tonight.”

Coach Mick Cronin yells at a referee. UCLA had built a 16-point lead at the break behind 38 first-half points, but the Bruins shot just 40% from the field in the second half. The Bruins’ 18 turnovers Thursday – including 10 in the second half – marked a season high. (Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)

After putting up six points in the first 20 minutes, freshman forward Adem Bona saw his touches dwindle, attempting just one field goal after leaving the halftime locker room.

To make matters worse, his lead facilitator Bailey tallied more turnovers than assists as Cronin limited his time on the court.

“He’s (Bailey’s) got to quit turning the ball over,” Cronin said. “But he had some key passes. He’s one of the few guys tonight who got Adem the ball.”

The freshman guard wasn’t the only culprit, as redshirt senior guard Tyger Campbell also tied him with a game-high-tying five turnovers, including a low-shovel pass intended for Bailey that rolled out of bounds.

“You’re throwing passes at people’s feet, and Nolan Ryan fastballs off the glass,” Cronin said. “You’re just screwing around, and in doing that, all you do is make yourself look bad – really bad.”

Washington capitalized on the errors, knocking down 6-of-12 3-pointers to shave the deficit to as few as six.

Cronin lamented his veteran leaders in a game in which Campbell and Jaquez combined for nine turnovers. UCLA’s 18 turnovers come after it gave up the ball more times than its opponent for the first time all season against USC last Thursday.

“Our supposed best two players got nine turnovers and all of them unforced,” Cronin said.

Jaquez still scored 15 points and corralled 10 rebounds, while Bailey chipped in 13 points in his second game back from a foot injury. The first-half scoring from their lead contributors gave the Bruins a large enough cushion en route to their 20th consecutive home victory.

“We’re 18-4, and in every metric that matters, we’re in the top five in the nation, and we don’t buy players. So I think everybody should be happy if you’re a UCLA fan, and I’m happy,” Cronin said. “I’m not happy about the turnovers.”

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Bryan Palmero | Daily Bruin senior staff
Palmero is a senior staff writer for Sports. He served as the assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats from 2021-2022 and a Sports reporter on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats in 2021. He is a third-year mathematics and economics student.
Palmero is a senior staff writer for Sports. He served as the assistant Sports editor on the softball, beach volleyball, women's volleyball, men's volleyball and men's golf beats from 2021-2022 and a Sports reporter on the beach volleyball and women's volleyball beats in 2021. He is a third-year mathematics and economics student.
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