Amari Bailey leads UCLA men’s basketball past Oregon State
Freshman guard Amari Bailey takes on a pair of defenders in a game against Maryland. Bailey scored 18 points in the second half and a career-high 24 for the game as No. 7 UCLA men’s basketball powered past Oregon State on Thursday night. (Alex Driscoll/Daily Bruin staff)
|No. 7 UCLA
Feb. 9, 2023 8:22 p.m.
This post was updated Feb. 9 at 11:46 p.m.
Late in the second half, coach Mick Cronin pulled Amari Bailey over to the sideline.
But Cronin didn’t have any words of wisdom for the freshman guard. All he had was a smile and a high-five.
Bailey caught fire in the second half as No. 7 UCLA men’s basketball (20-4, 11-2 Pac-12) powered its way past Oregon State (9-16, 3-11) by a score of 62-47 in Corvallis on Thursday night. Bailey led the way for the blue and gold with a career-high 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 18 in the second half alone.
The night didn’t start nearly as prettily for Bailey and the Bruins, though.
The least turnover-prone team in the conference, UCLA coughed the ball up three times across the first four minutes of the contest to an Oregon State team that forces less than 12 turnovers per game. Cronin yanked Bailey and junior guard Jaylen Clark off the court before the first media timeout, but the Bruins turned the ball over once more on their ensuing possession.
Nevertheless, down 8-3 to the second-worst team in the Pac-12, UCLA started to find its rhythm on offense. Clark, returning from his early stint on the bench, made his first three shots from the field as the Bruins took a lead they ultimately wouldn’t concede.
The offensive rut wasn’t solved by individual creation, however, as UCLA wound up with nine assists and six offensive rebounds through the first 20 minutes. With the Bruins up 19-16, a scramble for the ball after a Clark miss wound up in the hands of senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., who went right back to an open Clark down low for a quick two.
The next time down, UCLA missed two more shots, but corralled the board after both, with Clark once again the recipient down low as he earned a trip to the charity stripe.
Its defense certainly didn’t hurt either, as the lead only began to swell. Oregon State went nearly five minutes without a point as the first half wound down, finishing with just 18 points in the opening 20 minutes of play.
A 12-2 run to close the frame and its best defensive performance in a half all season gave UCLA a 13-point lead at the break.
Early in the second half, Clark took a pass that fell right into his chest, and he took off down the court, finishing off an easy dunk after his second steal of the night. And after Bailey missed a layup the following possession, Clark stole the ball back before Bailey could even get himself off the floor.
Bailey waited under the basket on the other end for a wide-open slam, kicking off a spurt of six straight points for the freshman as UCLA’s lead ballooned to 44-24.
And Clark wasn’t done yet. Right out of the under-12 media timeout, Clark took a steal the other way for yet another fastbreak bucket, marking points 16 and 17 for UCLA off Oregon State’s turnovers. The Beavers finished with 18 turnovers Thursday as the Bruins notched their best defensive performance of the season.
Clark’s layup and a 3 from fifth-year guard David Singleton put an end to Bailey’s personal run, but the freshman guard couldn’t be stopped down the stretch. Bailey made four straight buckets for the Bruins late in the second half as part of his career-high showing in the scoring column.
Even Cronin couldn’t help but smile.