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Johnny Juzang’s career-best 32 points lead UCLA to win at Washington

UCLA's Johnny Juzang looks to shoot as Washington's Quade Green defends during the second half Feb. 13, 2021, in Seattle.
UCLA’s Johnny Juzang looks to shoot as Washington’s Quade Green defends Saturday. Juzang hit five three-pointers and scored a career-high 32 points in the Bruins’ 64-61 win.
(Young Kwak / Associated Press)

Here’s Johnny!

With his teammates stuck in another offensive rut, scrounging for points amid a slew of clanked shots and turnovers, Johnny Juzang pulled back the curtain on a dazzling scoring display.

The UCLA guard’s array of jumpers from the baseline and wing helped him score the final 18 points of the first half for his team Saturday at Washington. By that point, he was up to 21 points, recognizing that he was in the sort of rhythm where the worst thing he could do was stop shooting.

“Like an ‘OK, I’m at that mode right now,’ ” Juzang said of his mentality.

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Juzang continually countered the Huskies’ runs in the second half, his final jumper with 54 seconds left nudging the Bruins toward a slump-busting 64-61 victory at Alaska Airlines Arena.

Juzang finished with a career-high 32 points, making 12 of 23 shots and five of 12 three-pointers, to help UCLA (14-5, 10-3 Pac-12) end its two-game losing streak and remain within one game of conference-leading USC.

Highlights from UCLA’s 64-61 victory at Washington on Saturday night.

As tends to be the case with the Bruins, there was high drama in the closing moments.

Guard Jules Bernard made a jumper with his foot on the three-point line with nine seconds left, extending UCLA’s lead to 63-60. Coach Mick Cronin instructed his team to foul the Huskies so they could not get off a three-pointer and point guard Tyger Campbell complied with 4.8 seconds left.

Washington’s Quade Green made one of two free throws before UCLA’s Cody Riley grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Riley, who had missed his first four free throws, made the first attempt and missed the second, giving Washington one final chance down by three points with 3.6 seconds to go.

Green raced up the right sideline but his three-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the backboard and rim, ending the Huskies’ hopes and providing a potentially galvanizing triumph for the Bruins after they had lost three of their previous four games.

“I would say it was a really big momentum and morale win,” Juzang said. “You know, let’s change the course of the rest of this season.”

UCLA's Jaylen Clark, left, and Jules Bernard, right, battle Washington's Jamal Bey for a rebound Feb. 13, 2021.
UCLA’s Jaylen Clark, left, and Jules Bernard, right, battle Washington’s Jamal Bey for a second-half rebound.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

UCLA’s defense bounced back after being challenged by Cronin, holding the Huskies (3-16, 2-12) to 36.2% shooting two nights after Washington State scorched the Bruins for 81 points. The one flaw was allowing Washington’s Marcus Tsohonis to score all of his 22 points in the second half

But the breakdowns didn’t matter because of Juzang, whose ability to move without the ball helped him get open against Washington’s matchup zone. He matched Tsohonis’ three-pointer with one of his own with about nine minutes left, extending a lead that had grown increasingly precarious after Tsohonis came off the bench to make six three-pointers.

Bernard scored 14 points in his return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench against Washington State, coming up particularly big late. He made two free throws with 2:18 left after grabbing an offensive rebound and getting clobbered to break a 57-57 deadlock, and the Bruins led the rest of the way.

UCLA won despite making only six of 18 free throws, with Juzang making three of four and his teammates making three of 14.

“Some of those were the front ends of one and one,” Cronin said of the misses. “It puts unbelievable pressure on your defense and it really tests your character and your resolve to continue to compete.”

Juzang outscored Washington by himself in the first half, splurging for 21 points on eight-for-13 shooting to help the Bruins take a 26-20 halftime lead.

No. 12 Oklahoma edged No. 14 West Virginia 91-90 in two overtimes Saturday, while No. 19 Creighton defeated No. 5 Villanova 86-70.

He made two three-pointers as part of UCLA’s 11-0 run to start the game before the Bruins gave back all of their advantage during a nine-minute drought in which the Huskies went on their own 11-0 surge to tie the score.

UCLA missed all eight of its shots and committed six turnovers during the drought that ended when Juzang buried a step-back, baseline jumper. That commenced a stretch in which Juzang scored every point for his team the rest of the half.

The scoring spree prompted Bruins athletic director Martin Jarmond, who made the trip to Seattle, to tweet a frozen emoji reflecting the ice in Juzang’s veins. Juzang’s teammates needed every point on a night his offensive output matched theirs collectively.

“We knew he was on fire tonight,” guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. said, “so trying to get him the ball and get him going was kind of our attitude coming into the second half.”


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