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Out of Bounds: UCLA Men’s Basketball Midseason Check-In

By Jon Christon, Sam Settleman, and Gavin Carlson

Feb. 16, 2023 2:12 p.m.

In the year’s second episode of “Out of Bounds,” Daily Bruin’s sports podcast, Sports Editor Sam Settleman, senior staff writer Jon Christon and staff writer Gavin Carlson check in on No. 4 UCLA men’s basketball with only six games left in the regular season. They discuss senior guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s 3-point shooting, UCLA’s looming matchup against No. 8 Arizona, and Mick Cronin’s ceiling as a national championship head coach.

Note: The transcript for this podcast has been partially generated automatically. Its accuracy may vary.

Jon Christon: Hi, my name is Jon Christon, and this is Out of Bounds, Daily Bruin’s sports podcast.

JC: Hi, hello everyone. Welcome back to yet another episode of Out of Bounds. I’m your host Jon Christon, a senior staff writer here at the Daily Bruin. I am pumped and I’m jacked to talk about some UCLA men’s basketball today. We have a special episode, we’re going to be playing a game of ‘Fact or Fiction: UCLA men’s basketball.’ Today, I’m joined by staff writer Gavin Carlson. Gavin, what’s up?

Gavin Carlson: Nothing much to midterm season. So you know, UCLA students are stressed but your family, UCLA basketball. You’re feeling pretty good after the last weekend, so I’m feeling good.

JC: Alright, checking in is Week Six of the quarter. Right now UCLA is 21 and for overall 12 into the PAC 12. Right now they’re in first place in the conference, their game and a half up against Arizona. Arizona still has to play Arizona State so that could go up to two games. It’s going to be even by the end of the year. They have six games left. They boast the longest active home winning streak in the nation of 21 games. They’re coming off road wins against Oregon State Oregon. I don’t think Oregon State you know, that seems pretty bad. But that when it gets Oregon showed a lot of stuff that I am interested. I’m curious to talk about because that was a tough one. Oregon’s playing well, right now we know ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has them as the first team out in his bracketology which we’ll dive into a little bit more about UCLA perspective. That’s a hard one going up to Eugene and they hadn’t won there since 2019.

GC: Yeah, I really thought Jaime Jaquez Jr. Obviously put the team on his back there at 25 points. 12 rebounds. I think a really interesting underrated stat Jaime has 39 rebounds over the last three games. So not only is he getting it done offensively scoring the ball. We’ll talk a little bit later about his shooting, but he’s really getting it done on both sides of the floor and really getting active on the glass putting the team on his back in every regard. So yeah, it was a huge wind up in Eugene and we’ll see if they can keep it going. 

JC: They’re gonna be playing Stanford and Cal this coming weekend, Thursday, Saturday, Pac 12 action. I think Cal is like Oregon State, that you see UCLA will just blow them out and will be close to Stanford and could be good. Stanford’s coming off a win against Arizona. I think that’ll actually be a closer game that fans are expecting. Sitting you know, UCLA was up on it, nothing against Stanford last time the two teams played, but I think it’d be a good game.

SS: I don’t think they’re gonna be that close. I mean, we know Cal is obviously not gonna be close. They’re three and 22. Stanford’s not very good, either. I know, they beat Arizona, and all that. But UCLA has played pretty well, in probably billion so far this year. I think they’re 13 now. And I really don’t see that being that close to a game. UCLA kind of needs to close this stretch out. And that’s two of the games that they just can’t lose. So I don’t see that being close you right now.

JC: UCLA controls their own destiny in terms of Pac-12 seeding, they’re gonna be the ones to determine when the regular season title if they went out, but if they lose one of these games coming up to Stanford, a cow or the week after the mountain road trip to Utah or Colorado, it may set up a game against Arizona the last game of the regular season, that’ll be for first place in the Pac 12 in the regular season title, which I think probably will be crazy. That’s gonna be a great atmosphere if that happens. So let’s just dive into our big questions, our Fact or Fiction game about this UCLA team, and I’ll start with one related to that. Right now: UCLA is the best team in the Pac 12. Fact or fiction?

GC: I’m gonna go with fiction, believe it or not, just because I’m a firm believer of you have to beat the top dog in order to be the top dog and until UCLA beats Arizona, I think you kind of have to give the nod to Arizona just in terms of they’ve had one head to head matchup, Arizona looked like the far superior team, in my opinion, mind you, they were at home and so they should be but usually we’ll obviously have a chance now to host Arizona in a couple of weeks and 27th and no at Pauley Pavilion, when there’s been fans the past two seasons. So if you don’t beat Arizona at home in a packed crowd, it’s already sold out, then Arizona is going to continue to be the top dog in the Pac 12. And until then, I think it’s still their crown even though UCLA has obviously had the better season thus far.

SS: I’m gonna say fact I think there’s definitely an argument to be made that Arizona is still the best team in the Pac 12 right now. But I do think getting Amari Bailey back is huge for this team, especially the way he’s playing of late. I think when you add him to the mix, and you have that starting lineup, and you put singleton back in that six man role, I don’t know if you can make an argument that there are many more well rounded teams in the country, let alone the PAC 12. So I think he makes a big difference. And the way Jaime is playing right now. If Jalen Clark can get some shots to fall again. I mean, I really think this team can go a long way in the postseason. I don’t think Arizona is quite at the same level in terms of the talent that they have.

JC: Yeah, get some context there. Arizona beat UCLA 58-52 earlier in the season in January, but Mario Bailey was not playing in that game. So six point loss on the road without one of your starting five members. I don’t really know if that game can be used as too much evidence one way or another. So I’m gonna say factor this, I agree with Sam, I think Amari Bailey really does make a difference. UCLA right now, it’s fourth and April Arizona’s eighth. And I think maybe you can make an argument, if both teams are firing on all cylinders, Arizona is better because that offense is just special. And if when they’re again when they’re clicking. They have one of, if not the best offense, in the country. Right now their 10th and KenPom and adjusted offense or ucis 24th. That big difference is defense and that has come out for Arizona against Oregon when they lost by double digits. They lost to Stanford I think by nine or something so it wasn’t even that close. So I think they are prone to slip up a little bit. But if they’re both playing the highest level, Arizona, maybe better but I just, I take UCLA as consistency. I take UCLA as you know, they have a lot of guys who have been there in the tournament playing these big games. So I’m going to affect UCLA is the best team in the Pac 12. 

JC: Next question I feel about Jaime Jaquez. Gavin kind of touched on his shooting, but he has been shooting a lot more threes lately, and he’s been making a lot more threes. In his first 14 games of this season, he only made five total threes in the season, he was taking about one game a little less than one a game. But in the last 11 games, he’s shot. The last round game, he’s made at least one three in every game. He made two against Oregon, he tied a career high three, three pointers made against Washington state. And you know, he was saying in the midweek availability that he just needed to slow down, work on its fundamentals and the shots are in the fall. And he’s always been confident in it. But now it’s starting to fall. He should have 34% from three right now, which is a step up from his 20%. Last year, he wasn’t healthy last year, as we all know, he shot 39% a sophomore year, I put this up: Jaime Jaquez’s three point shooting is legitimate, Fact or Fiction?

SS: I’m gonna say Fact on that one. And obviously I don’t know what I was doing in the gym. I don’t know how many shots he’s putting up. But I do feel like he knows that. At least for the first year, two thirds of his NBA career, he’s going to need to be a three and D type of guy, he’s going to need to have that three point shot to at least have a chance.

GC: Not to sound like a UCLA hater. I really do think that you sleighs clean really well right now, but I’m gonna go fiction once again. But I actually don’t think it really matters. You know, it’s kind of ironic that last year at the same time, we were recording a pod and we were talking about how Jaime was playing so well because he wasn’t shooting a lot of threes, because he was just getting to a spot getting to the post and doing what he does best. And so whether or not he keeps his hot streak from three point land, I don’t really think it matters as long as he continues to be dominant where he’s at his best. And you know, you keep getting the supporting cast, Amari Bailey, David Singleton, the rest of the crew playing well, I don’t think it’s that pivotal for UCLA to make a run at the end of the season and into March Madness.

JC: I’m gonna say fact I’m gonna agree with Sam here. I agree in the sense that he has dominant a lot of other things. So it may not matter much. And you know, come tournament time, you maybe don’t want him shooting as many theories just because he’s more efficient when he’s in the pain, driving, you know, using his footwork and all that, but I think, you know, he’s going to have that shot open to him in come March, and he’s going to have to take it and so if he’s knocking down, you know, 36% Compared to 28%, or something, that’s a huge difference that opens up the offense. I don’t think it’s coincidence. The offense has looked much better in recent weeks. And it did just you know, a month ago or so, and a lot of that can be attributed to Amari Bailey. I also think a lot of that can be contributed to Jaime Jacques keeping defenses honest. And I think it’s legitimate. I think he will be a sophomore year as I said he shot 39% from three last year. It was kind of a Fuki season, associated injuries of both his ankles. And I think at the start of this year, you’re just getting his confidence back so I think it’s fact I think it’s three point shooting this adjournment. That being said, I don’t think he’s gonna be you know, launching like seven threes a game or anything coming into the season, but if you can make at least one a game for the next 10 or so games I think that makes a world of difference for you see, always offense. 

JC: Another question about Jaime Jaquez Jr. Jaime Jaquez Jr. is the best player in the Pac 12 slash he should win Pac-12 Player of the Year, Fact or Fiction?

GC: I’m gonna say fact I think it’s between Jaime and Tubelis for Arizona. And I think it really is just going to come down to who wins the PAC 12 Obviously, stats and all that matter. But if you’re on the best team in the conference, and you’re the best player, that certainly helps your case. And I think it would take a lot for UCLA to blow this lead in the Pac 12 Regardless of what happens in the Arizona Game. Jaime has been great the last few and if you like if you played better down the stretch, what matters most that’s always gonna favor you when it comes to a season award. So I’m gonna give him the nod. I’m gonna give it to Jaime.

SS: Yeah, I think I mean, I said UCLA was the best team in the conference before and obviously if I’m is the best player on the best team in the conference, I think it’s fair to say he’s the he’s the facto player the year but but I will say that I think as of right now to bellows might be the the leading candidate for it. But at the end of the day, it is gonna come down to who wins the PAC 12. So pretty much against it.

JC: I’m gonna go fact. I think Jaime, you look at Tubelis’s stats and to balance that we has an advantage. He’s averaging 20 points a game nine and a half rebounds. He is just like a lot of times a force to be reckoned with. He played Oregon a few weeks ago and put up 49 which is like, which is just like one of the most dominant performances I’ve seen all season by any player but PAC 12 or not. And he definitely has that going for him but I don’t think you can undermine Jaime Jacques is his popularity around the country and you know, by writers in the Pac 12 by just the media in general. People love hanging out. Guess he’s the guy who stayed for years. People, you know, kind of plays an old school style of basketball. And UCLA is a popular team. So Kevin Love was one in 2008 for his freshman season, and then before that Aaron Afflalo won the year before. So it’s going back, you know, 15 years since the UCLA players won pacto Player of the Year, which is pretty impressive considering UCLA has been pretty good, not this good as they’ve been this season. But they’ve been near the top of the conference for a lot of those years and had some good players run through the program. So Jaime can be you know, make some history here, and really cement himself as one of the best players in school history and I think he’s going to do it. 

JC: Fact or Fiction, UCLA fans should trust Mick Cronin’s offense come tournament time?

GC: All right, I had some UCLA praise, I just praised Jaime, but I guess I’m back on the hater train, I’m gonna say fiction. I think it’s well documented that I don’t like the UCLA offensive style of play. I’m not against you know, being a slow team taking your time. But the whole point of taking your time is that you end up with a great shot. And I don’t think that’s what this team does. I just feel like this team, you know, waits till there’s about 10 on the shot clock before they get started a lot of the time and it ends with a lot of isolation. Last second shots in the shot clock, especially towards the end of the game. So I do get a little nervous that if Amari Bailey’s not making a tough mid range jumper, if Jaime Jacques isn’t taller than the person guarding him in the post, I think there are some worries, but at the end of the day, no team in college basketball has been dominant throughout the game throughout the season. And I think his offense is good enough to be supported by a phenomenal defense, which they definitely have. So in summary Fiction.

SS: I’m gonna say Fact for this one, and I do agree with what God was saying about the offense. And I feel like that’s what the offense has looked like for a lot of these past couple months. But I said it before, and I’ll say it again, I think Amari Bailey makes such a big difference for this team on offense, one getting singleton and the six man role, where he’s clearly proven to be a lot more effective as a shooter especially. And then two, I think Amari Bailey himself. I mean, he had a career I 24 against Oregon State the other day, and I don’t even think he took a three in that game. I mean, a lot of his points are straight line drives to the basket, fast break points. And those are the types of buckets you’re gonna need to rely on come postseason. I mean, obviously if you get a guy who’s a streaky shooter, volume shooter, Kurt crease, that type of guy, maybe it’ll go off for a couple points here and there, but Amari Bailey’s guy, I think you can consistently rely on for 10 to 14 points a game at this point, when he makes a big difference, especially getting singles in in in his comfortable role. And then you have Tyger, you have high man, you got these experience, guys who can facilitate an offense as well, I think I think they’ll be fine combo seasons.

JC: I want to say Fact, we’re Sam but he said everything already there is to say about that pretty much. I think Amari makes a big difference, I think single thing coming off the bench. Coming off the bench makes a big difference. They have pretty good stats offensively, you know, they had that rough, rough stretch. But the last few games so better again with our Amari coming with Amari starting there the 90th percentile or an offensive rating in the country right now. They’re like I said they’re 24th offensively in KenPom which isn’t elite but it is certainly good there are 350 teams in KenPom so that’s that’s better than the average team. I think there is one caveat with that that maybe we can touch on a little bit but Mick has a sweet spot for centers and there’s a big drop off between Adem Bona and whoever is next in line to play that but yeah fact I think I think UCLA’s offense we should know by now to trust may come tournament time he plays an ugly so basketball but when possessions get tight down the stretch where as they do in tournament play he says offense usually has enough to make it work and you can’t doubt a team with this many seniors in this experience and a coach who has been there and done that before 

JC: Alright, so ending offL UCLA’s ceiling is a national championship, Fact or Fiction?

GC: And I’ve been saying fiction a lot today but I’m gonna go fact as well. One through five. As Sam said, this is an extremely deep roster, they have the experience, but they also have a lot of potential still you have two freshmen to five star freshmen that are getting better as the season goes on in Adem and in Amari, I think Amari really has a chance to maybe have a Johnny Juzang type of March Madness run. I just think that he’s starting to get a little more aggressive as he’s come back from his injury. And if he’s really given the green light to be the second scorer behind Jaime, maybe even the first depending on matchups. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes over a game or two when you need that isolation scoring that this team relies on so much. But yeah, I just think with the depth with the coach, with the experience and with the potential of the two freshmen. I think it’s hard to say anything other than ceiling as a national championship for this team.

JC: I’m gonna say fact for this one as well, I think and I said this before as well, but I think one of the most well rounded teams in the country, and it’s something that you don’t get a lot in college basketball. I feel like there’s a team that one through five I think they really do have it all. We haven’t even talked about Jaylen Clark at all this year but heard all this podcast I should say, but he was one of you says best players if not usually the best player early in the season, and he’s kind of regressed on the offensive end a bit. But he’s still probably the best two way player in the conference. You get Tyger Campbell, a fifth year point guard to facilitate and Jaime Jaquez is a guy you can rely on down the stretch. Amari Bailey, who’s proven himself as of late in the den, bona, who I mean, if he’s not in foul trouble, you can make impact plays on both sides of the ball. And then David Singleton off the bench too. So I really think they do have every piece they need to win a national championship. And obviously, March Madness is weird, and it gets. Obviously March Madness is weird. There’s nothing else to say. They’re the best team, doesn’t always win come March. But I do think that this team does have what it takes.

JC: Yeah, I’m not gonna disagree with you guys there. I think obviously, when this team is quipping, they certainly have a ceiling to win a national championship. Just for devil’s advocate here for a second. I do think there are some flaws that may come up from time to time. I know we talked about the offense, I think it’s good enough to win. But at the end, I kind of started talking about that big rotation. I really do think one of the biggest flaws in the team building for this roster is not recruiting a transfer bag or someone with experience because as far as good as a demo, and it is and I’m the president of President of the Adem Bona fan club the depth behind him is just non existent. And I know Mick was probably open for you know, something from Kenny Nwuba, maybe something from Mac Etienne in terms of like a little bit of a week, even though he missed all last year with an injury. I think there’s also some recruiting stuff. Some some international player he thought was going to be coming but ended up not following through. But I think just needing a big guy with experience there because I do think in tournament time, a dam gets blown foul in the first five minutes and he brings in Kenny, that could be a six or run for the other team just like that. And we can see from the 2021 tournament, you have to win a lot of close games to make it to a national championship to make it to a Final Four team and make it to the sweet 16 I mean, three of those games are in overtime. The Michigan one was two points. So and that was an overtime game. So for those games are really close. And you know, they’re gonna have to run the table in the Pac 12 tournament most likely to get a high seed and there’s just a lot of variables that need to go right but at the end of the day you have Jaime Jaquez is one of the best players in the country, Tyger Campbell and at this point guards, Amari, Jaylen, I can go on and on and Mick Cronin is a coach who has shown the capabilities to play well join the capabilities for seen to play well in the tournament. So I’m going to say Fact. I think the ceiling is a national championship, but maybe I’m not quite as optimistic as Sam and Gavin, even though Gavin was a hater today. But that’s going to wrap us up here at Out of Bounds. 

JC: Out of Bounds is brought to you by the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper. You can listen to this show and others by the Daily Bruin on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud and the transcript for this show is always available on Thanks, everyone.


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Jon Christon | Sports senior staff
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
Sam Settleman | Sports editor
Settleman is currently the Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
Settleman is currently the Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
Gavin Carlson | Sports staff
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
Carlson is currently a staff writer on the football, men's basketball and women's basketball beats. He was previously a reporter on the softball and men's golf beats.
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