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The Sports Report: UCLA routs San Diego, 83-56

UCLA guard Johnny Juzang, right, is fouled by San Diego guard Chris Herren Jr. during the second half.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on UCLA basketball: Johnny Juzang released nine months of anxiety with one flick of the wrist.

The Kentucky transfer sank a three-pointer on his first shot in a UCLA jersey as he scored 10 points off the bench Wednesday in the Bruins’ 83-56 win over San Diego at Pauley Pavilion.

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After missing the first four games with a stress reaction in his right foot, the 6-foot-6 guard was the first UCLA player off the bench and provided a small glimpse of his prolific scoring ability after not playing in a game since March.

“When the shot when in, it was like ‘ah,’” Juzang said, exhaling. “It was settling.”

Juzang, who made four of six shots from the field and grabbed three rebounds, was one of five double-digit scorers for the Bruins, who had 50 points in the second half to secure their fourth straight win.

Juzang was close to returning Sunday, but the medical staff advised a cautious approach, UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. The sophomore was limited to about 20 minutes Wednesday, and the coaching staff’s hope for him was to take smart shots and not turn the ball over. It was about a 90% success, Cronin said, who lamented one ill-advised shot even though Juzang played 19 minutes with no turnovers.

Juzang played in 28 games at Kentucky last season, averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game, and was granted immediate eligibility for this year following his transfer. The Tarzana native was a highly touted recruit out of Harvard-Westlake, where he averaged 23 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a junior before classifying in 2019 to make the jump to college early.

When fully healthy, Juzang is expected to spark UCLA’s offense even more after the Bruins (4-1) shot 46.2% from the field Wednesday.

“He’s a such a weapon with his ability to put it in the basket that it opens up the floor for a Chris Smith or a Jamie Jaquez to drive or a Tyger [Campbell] to drive the ball and Cody [Riley] to score inside, for instance,” Cronin said. “You have to guard him at all times. He’s a tremendous offensive weapon.”

Jaquez led the Bruins with 17 points, four rebounds and a career-high four blocks. Smith and Campbell each had 12 points, with Campbell adding five assists and no turnovers. Riley had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Every UCLA player who was on the court for more than two minutes scored as the Toreros (0-1) struggled to keep pace in their opener that was delayed because of a positive COVID-19 test in the program.

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RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: The week leading up to Super Bowl LIII was an overwhelmingly positive experience for Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

He was in his second season running coach Sean McVay’s system and led an offense that ranked among the best in the NFL. He had earned a second straight invitation to the Pro Bowl, and he was making a case for an early contract extension, one that would eventually net him a guaranteed $110 million.

Then, of course, veteran New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his staff devised a game plan that flummoxed McVay and discombobulated Goff. The Rams lost 13-3.

Memories? Goff has a few.

“Not very many good ones,” he said this week.

But there was something positive.

“Being there and being able to soak it all in and having that experience, for not only myself, but our team, as far as when we do get a chance to get back there, being able to handle that the way we want to,” Goff said.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Rams are 8-4, in first place in the NFC West and positioned for a return to the postseason.

On Thursday night, Goff and McVay will get the opportunity to show if they’ve grown from their Super Bowl experience when they play the Patriots at SoFi Stadium.

A late regular-season game, in an abbreviated week, against a 6-6 Patriots team with much different personnel than two seasons ago is not the same as facing Belichick in a Super Bowl. This is not a Redemption Bowl.

But the six-man front, the blitzes and the coverage schemes that the Patriots — and the Chicago Bears before them — employed to perplex the Rams are no longer a mystery. Several opponents since have attempted similar schemes.

“It’ll be good to see what they want to do,” Goff said of the Patriots. “I mean, I think we’re at a point now where we’ve seen a little bit of stuff this year and have good plans for kind of everything.”

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Todd Gurley finally gets to play in the stadium he ‘helped create’

BASEBALL

Bill Shaikin on minor league baseball: The Lancaster JetHawks, the lone minor league baseball team in Los Angeles County, died Wednesday. The JetHawks were 24. They died at the hands of Major League Baseball.

They leave behind two California League championships, an alumni roster that includes World Series champions Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Kiké Hernandez, and an Antelope Valley region of half a million residents, robbed of its only pro sports team.

The long and hot summers will be uninterrupted by the joy of a night at the community ballpark, rooting on prospects as they climb the minor league ladder. No more dogs on Bark and Brews nights, no more Thirsty Thursdays and family Sundays, no more of the beloved KaBoom mascot bopping into hospitals and schools to cheer up local kids.

Baseball needs kids, and lots of them. It is a slow-paced, big-screen sport in a fast-paced, small-screen world. The average fan is eligible for AARP membership, the middle class has been priced out of major league ballparks, and there are better ways to develop the next generation of fans than by killing off dozens of the minor league teams that sell reasonably priced fun.

This is the third California League team to perish in the last five years, following Bakersfield and High Desert, in areas north of Los Angeles where an affordable family home is not an oxymoron. California is the most populous state in the country, but MLB is blowing off the territory between Dodger Stadium and Visalia, 200 miles away.

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SOCCER

Kevin Baxter on soccer: For the U.S. national team, Wednesday’s 6-0 rout of El Salvador in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was just another step on a long path coach Gregg Berhalter hopes will end at the next World Cup in Qatar. And the journey is proceeding just as methodically as Wednesday’s win.

Berhalter called up three distinctly different rosters for the four games on his team’s COVID-abbreviated schedule this year, yet the U.S. didn’t lose a game. In fact, the U.S. is 6-1-1 over the last 14 months, outscoring opponents 28-5 over that span.

But for Berhalter the most important figure is 42, the number of players he got to see play in 2020.

“It’s just the process, right?” he asked Wednesday. “The process is to develop. To get as many players into our program as possible and get them familiar with the way we play.

“All that’s important and it’s good to keep moving forward, keep making progress.”

The auditions continued against El Salvador, with five players making their first senior team appearances and three of them figuring in the scoring with Orlando City’s Chris Mueller picking up two goals and two assists, Toronto’s Ayo Akinola getting a goal and the Galaxy’s Julian Araujo picking up an assist.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1939 — The Green Bay Packers register the first shutout in an NFL championship game by beating the New York Giants 27-0.

1961 — Billy Cannon of the Houston Oilers rushes for 216 yards and catches five passes for 114 yards and scores five touchdowns in a 48-21 victory over the New York Titans. Cannon finishes with 373 combined yards.

1971 — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scores a career-high 55 points in Milwaukee’s 120-104 victory over the Boston Celtics.

1985 — The Indiana Pacers make only 19 field goals in an 82-64 loss to the New York Knicks, setting an NBA record for the fewest field goals made by one team since the inception of the shot clock.

1989 — Seattle’s Steve Largent makes his NFL record 100th touchdown catch in the second quarter of the Seahawks’ 24-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

1994 — Art Monk sets an NFL record for consecutive games with a reception on New York’s first play in the Jets’ 18-7 loss to the Detroit Lions. Monk’s 5-yard catch gives him 178 consecutive games with a reception, breaking Steve Largent’s NFL mark.

1999 — Laffit Pincay Jr. guides Irish Nip to a two-length victory in the sixth race at Hollywood Park for his 8,834th victory, breaking Bill Shoemaker’s 29-year-old record and making him the world’s winningest jockey.

2006 — Marvin Harrison of Indianapolis is the fourth player in NFL history with 1,000 receptions, joining Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Cris Carter. Harrison catches a 13-yard pass from Peyton Manning early in the fourth quarter to join the elite group.

2008 — Carmelo Anthony matches George Gervin’s NBA record for points in a quarter with 33 in the third and finishes with a season-high 45 points in Denver’s 116-105 victory over Minnesota.

2010 — George Karl earns his 1,000th coaching victory, the seventh coach in NBA history, as Al Harrington scores a season-high 31 points and Nene adds 26 to help the Denver Nuggets hold off the Toronto Raptors 123-116.

2011 — Robert Griffin III beats out preseason favorite Andrew Luck for the Heisman Trophy, dazzling voters with his ability to throw, run and lead Big 12 doormat Baylor into the national rankings. Luck became the fourth player to be Heisman runner-up in consecutive seasons.

2016 — Army ends a 14-year run of frustration against Navy, using an overpowering running game and opportunistic defense to carve out a long overdue 21-17 victory. The Black Knights’ 14-game losing streak was the longest by either academy in a series that began in 1890.

2016 — Roman Torres scores in the sixth round of penalty kicks to give the Seattle Sounders their first MLS Cup title, 5-4 over Toronto FC after 120 scoreless minutes. It’s the first MLS Cup final to fail to produce a goal in regulation, setting the stage for a dramatic tiebreaker.

2017 — Ben Roethlisberger completes 44 of a franchise-record 66 passes for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times and leading Pittsburgh past Baltimore 39-38. Antonio Brown catches 11 passes for 213 yards for Pittsburgh.

And finally

Laffit Pincay sets the record for most wins by a jockey. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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