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‘They’ve lost their confidence’: UCLA men’s basketball falls to Maryland

Coach Mick Cronin stands on the sideline at Pauley Pavilion, looking away from the court. (Brandon Morquecho/Assistant Photo editor)

Men’s basketball


Maryland69
UCLA60

By Joseph Crosby

Dec. 22, 2023 10:15 p.m.

Pauley Pavilion is familiar with left-handed sharpshooters.

Former guard Jules Bernard boasted a career shooting percentage of 43% in 130 games across four seasons with the Bruins. 

Yet Friday, the southpaw dominating the floor was wearing red and white – not blue and gold. 

Torching UCLA men’s basketball (5-6, 0-0 Pac-12) for 37 points – a career high and 14 more than Bernard’s best – guard Jahmir Young led Maryland (8-4, 1-1 Big Ten) to a 69-60 victory, handing the Bruins their second consecutive home loss for the first time in nearly four years and extending their losing streak to four. 

“Last year, he probably had six (points) against us,” coach Mick Cronin said. “We accomplished the game plan last year. I told the guys he’s got to get 25 for them to win, and he got it at halftime. So, we did an absolutely horrendous job.”

But that 23-point first-half from Young nearly wasn’t enough. 

Leading by 15 at the break and 20 early in the second frame, the Terrapins’ advantage slowly began to shrink. A 10-plus minute field goal drought reminiscent of prior Cronin-coached teams opened the door for the Bruins to storm back.

Twenty slipped to 19, 18, and then 17. 

Freshman guard Sebastian Mack capped off UCLA’s 27-9 run in that span with a jumper in the paint, cutting Maryland’s lead all the way down to two. 

But two grew to four, six, and then seven. 

Young’s hot hand caught fire once again, ending the Terrapin field goal drought before ballooning Maryland’s advantage. His 14-point second half concluded with a comeback-killing three-point play in the final 90 seconds – all but locking up his team’s third victory against the Bruins in 10 tries. 

As Young shined, UCLA’s stars in the making faltered. 

“They’ve lost their confidence,” Cronin said. “This is just my opinion. I’m not saying I’m right. It’s my opinion. But we’ve lost our confidence.”

Sophomore forward/center Adem Bona fouled out of Friday’s contest, notching just eight points in less than 20 minutes of play. Foul trouble also plagued both freshman forward Berke Buyuktuncel and Mack, with each recording four. 

Freshman guard Sebastian Mack attempts a shot while the defender converges on him. (Brandon Morquecho/Assistant Photo editor)

Mack – who tallied a team-high 17 points – and sophomore guard Dylan Andrews were the only two Bruins to eclipse double-digit points. However, even they struggled, shooting a combined 9-of-29 from the field.  

“We just want to come out and just get the W at the end of the day,” Andrews said. “Confidence, I mean, we just have to play … smarter and harder and just get the job done. That’s really what it is.”

The night wasn’t all negatives for UCLA, though. 

Freshman guard/forward Brandon Williams followed up his start against Cal State Northridge with eight points in 19 minutes, including back-to-back scores that cut Maryland’s lead to four. His plus-minus, which tracks the change in score while on the floor, of four was the highest of any Bruin. 

Even Buyuktuncel, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury, showed positive signs, returning to action to tally four offensive rebounds – a team-high – against Maryland.

“When I look down the line, I would say Berke, that’s an area (offensive rebounding) where he helped us,” Cronin said. “He’s got good hands – we’ve got some guys that know they don’t have great hands. Rebounding is about positioning and angles, and he does a good job with that.”

The Bruins’ loss also marked the conclusion of nonconference play. With the Pac-12 opener against Oregon State less than a week away, Mack said the team needs to start games stronger. 

“We tend to let guys hit us first,” Mack said. “It’s hard in this game of college basketball, and I’m learning that at an early age as a freshman. But we just got to hit first.”

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Joseph Crosby | Sports editor
Crosby is the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a fourth-year statistics student.
Crosby is the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a fourth-year statistics student.
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