Buoyed by strong Pac-12 start, UCLA returns to AP rankings at No. 24

UCLA guard Tyger Campbell and Washington forward Hameir Wright dive for a loose ball.
UCLA guard Tyger Campbell, right, and Washington forward Hameir Wright dive for a loose ball on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

UCLA is back in the Associated Press college basketball rankings, the Bruins’ return requiring their best start in Pac-12 Conference play in 27 years.

The Bruins (11-2 overall, 7-0 Pac-12) were ranked No. 24 in the AP poll released Monday, their first appearance since opening the season at No. 22 before falling out after a loss in their first game to San Diego State. UCLA rose one spot to No. 20 in the latest Coaches Poll.

Only one other Pac-12 team — No. 20 Oregon — was ranked by AP, though Colorado and USC were among the other teams receiving votes. UCLA was the highest-ranked Pac-12 team in the Coaches Poll, followed by No. 21 Oregon and No. 23 Colorado. USC was among the other teams receiving votes in the Coaches Poll.


A different standout player has proved pivotal in almost every game UCLA has played against Pac-12 competition this season.

Jan. 17, 2021

UCLA has won six consecutive games since a loss to Ohio State last month, giving the Bruins their best start in Pac-12 play since they also started 7-0 during the 1993-94 season. That UCLA team’s conference winning streak was snapped by California in the Bay Area, requiring a triple-double from Golden Bears point guard Jason Kidd.

The Bruins, alone atop the Pac-12 standings, hope history doesn’t repeat itself since their next game is against Cal (7-8, 2-6) on Thursday at Haas Pavilion.

The only metric that UCLA coach Mick Cronin was likely concerning himself with this week was the Bruins’ No. 91 ranking in adjusted defensive efficiency compiled by basketball analyst Ken Pomeroy. That amounts to sacrilege for a coach who prides himself on tough, aggressive defense that makes scoring difficult.

“We’ve been winning with a lot of offense,” Cronin said Saturday after his team rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat last-place Washington, 81-76. “I mean, our numbers bear it out — we’re ninth in the country coming in [Saturday] in offensive efficiency. And I can’t even say where we are defensively because it hurts my pride too much.”