David Singleton, Jaylen Clark help UCLA conquer adversity in win over Washington

Washington forward Nate Roberts, center, battles for a rebound with UCLA guard Jaylen Clark and center Myles Johnson.
Washington forward Nate Roberts, middle, battles for a rebound with UCLA guard Jaylen Clark, left, and center Myles Johnson during the No. 13 Bruins’ 76-50 victory Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It’s always something with this team.

On the night Tyger Campbell returned from a one-game absence, UCLA played without leading scorer Johnny Juzang and forward Cody Riley, depriving the Bruins of two top players. Their ranks were further thinned only 15 seconds into the game against Washington when Campbell hunched over in anguish while grabbing his left shoulder and was forced to join his sidelined teammates.

“It’s like somebody’s got a voodoo doll poking holes in my team,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin lamented afterward.

Fortunately for the Bruins, David Singleton and Jaylen Clark made them whole.


Singleton buried four of his six three-pointers in the first half, shaking his team out of an early funk, and Clark continued to be a two-way force while carrying No. 13 UCLA to a 76-50 runaway victory Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Jaylen Clark scored 18 points as No. 13 UCLA turned things around with a 76-56 win over Washington State on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion.

Singleton scored 14 of his career-high 22 points before halftime, and Clark added a career-high 25 points while also making life difficult for Washington’s Terrell Brown Jr., the Pac-12 Conference’s leading scorer. Brown made just five of 17 shots on the way to 13 points while struggling to find open looks.

Scoring was not nearly as troublesome for Clark, who converted dunks, layups and floaters while making 12 of 16 shots in a strong sequel to his breakthrough game two nights earlier. He momentarily terrified Cronin in the second half when he took a hard fall underneath the basket after a breakaway dunk before shaking it off.

The Bruins could not afford to lose anyone else, even after Campbell returned following a brief absence with what Cronin called a stinger.

UCLA's Jaylen Clark drives past Washington's Terrell Brown Jr., left, and Jamal Bey for a dunk.
UCLA’s Jaylen Clark, who scored a career-best 25 points, drives past Washington’s Terrell Brown Jr., left, and Jamal Bey for a dunk.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Juzang was out with a sore hip after falling off a scooter and Riley was out because of load management with the Bruins in the middle of a stretch of six games in 12 days. Junior guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. was also limited to 17 minutes as part of Cronin’s efforts to preserve his players.

Injuries and illnesses have become commonplace for the Bruins in their bid for a return to the Final Four, the team trotting out its expected starting lineup only 13 times this season. Cronin said Riley would return Monday against Arizona State and he was hopeful that Juzang could as well.

“I can’t get a guy from his apartment to Mo Ostin [practice facility] without falling off a scooter,” Cronin said, alluding to Juzang’s injury. “I don’t know who the hell’s out every day. I’m scared to pick my phone up every morning. Tyler Lesher’s done a great job as our trainer, but he’s the grim reaper. Every time he comes near me, it’s bad news.”

After missing their first eight shots and falling behind early, the Bruins (19-5 overall, 11-4 Pac-12) pulled away with a 17-1 push to open the second half, their 18-point cushion at that point prompting students to break out a “We want Russell!” chant in reference to walk-on Russell Stong, never mind that there were more than 14 minutes left.

Cronin complied with two minutes to go, inserting Stong to massive roars.

Singleton broke his previous career high of 15 points on a three-pointer from about 30 feet out early in the second half, holding his follow-through for effect. He added another shot from long range and finished making six of eight three-pointers against the Huskies (13-12, 8-7).

UCLA's Tyger Campbell goes up for a shot against Washington's Jamal Bey.
UCLA’s Tyger Campbell goes up for a shot against Washington’s Jamal Bey. Campbell left the game in the first half but returned after a brief absence with what coach Mick Cronin called a stinger.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

In his second start since supplanting Riley in the starting lineup, UCLA center Myles Johnson lived up to his “Myles the Monster” nickname by scoring seven points, blocking three shots and snagging 13 rebounds, including one he chased down near the three-point line.

Cronin rewarded the big man by letting him shoot two technical free throws even though he entered the game making just 42.4% of his foul shots, worst among the team’s regulars. Johnson made them both in this spot.

“You rebound like that, you play like that,” Cronin said, “you get to shoot the free throws.”

A fashionable pick to win the national championship, UCLA learned Saturday how much ground it must make up over the next few weeks just to earn a more favorable NCAA tournament seeding. The Bruins were projected as a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region by the NCAA tournament selection committee as part of an in-season bracket reveal.

UCLA must play six games in 12 days to make up for COVID delays. Coach Mick Cronin says the schedule is all about profits and players should be paid.

Fans could finally relax as the Bruins extended their advantage to 37 points in the second half, making it hard to tell they were so short-handed.

They have largely persevered on nights like Saturday because when somebody goes down, someone else has prevented further catastrophe.

“It’s the year of unbelievable,” Cronin said. “Let’s just get it all over before March.”