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Sixth man David Singleton’s shooting sparks No. 8 UCLA in win over Long Beach State

UCLA's David Singleton, right, celebrates with Jack Seidler after Singleton hit a three-pointer Nov. 11, 2022.
UCLA’s David Singleton, right, celebrates with Jack Seidler after Singleton hit a three-pointer Friday night. Singleton made four three-pointers and scored 14 points in the No. 8 Bruins’ 93-69 victory over Long Beach State.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
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Most preseason assessments of UCLA centered on the three veteran starters being joined by a group of enticing freshmen.

That’s great and everything, but don’t forget about the sixth man.

David Singleton showed once again Friday night why he might be the piece who completes the Bruins.

Unleashing a wicked pump fake to free himself for one three-pointer and calmly burying several others, Singleton came off the bench to star during the No. 8 Bruins’ 93-69 victory over Long Beach State at Pauley Pavilion.

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Singleton made four of eight three-pointers on the way to 14 points as one of five Bruins to score in double figures while adding a career-high nine rebounds.

“Here he is, Dennis Rodman,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin cracked when Singleton walked into the media room for interviews after the game.

Comparisons to legendary sharpshooters might also be in order. Singleton has made seven of 11 shots from beyond the arc this season, benefiting from summer workouts that have led to improved footwork and increased confidence.

The Bruins' Jaylen Clark (0) grabs a rebound during the first half against Long Beach State on Nov. 11, 2022.
The Bruins’ Jaylen Clark grabs a first-half rebound. He finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals in UCLA’s victory.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

“I just believe in myself,” Singleton said, “and the coaches believe in me, my teammates believe in me, so my confidence is up.”

There was plenty of help from the usual UCLA suspects. Senior guard Tyger Campbell scored 18 points on the night he became the 60th player in school history to score 1,000 points. Junior guard Jaylen Clark added 16 points and four steals. Freshman guard Amari Bailey tallied 14 points after a quiet debut four nights earlier, and senior forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 12 points.

None had the influence of the guy off the bench.

“To me, the star of the game was Dave — no turnovers, led us in rebounding and led us in no bad shots,” Cronin said. “When you have a veteran player like Dave who’s basically your sixth starter, huge.”

Bailey’s breakthrough came after a first-half scare when the energy inside the building vanished in an instant, everyone waiting to see if he was OK after missing an uncontested layup and banging his right knee while falling to the court. Bailey lingered along the baseline for several moments before limping to the bench.

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He was more embarrassed than hurt.

Fortunately, there was plenty of time left to make up for the blunder and he complied by making several dazzling plays.

UCLA guard Amari Bailey dunks against Long Beach State during the first half Nov. 11, 2022.
UCLA guard Amari Bailey dunks against Long Beach State during the first half. The freshman had 14 points and five rebounds.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Campbell surpassed 1,000 points when he buried a three-pointer in the first half, his achievement recognized on the scoreboard several minutes later.

“No one told me and I looked up in the huddle and I saw,” Campbell said. “It was a cool moment.”

UCLA also (2-0) turned to a renewable energy source in Clark. Coming off a strong two-way effort in the opener in which he made all seven shots and logged a career-high seven steals, he sparked a speedy turnaround. Clark made two steals and forced another turnover near midcourt, triggering his team’s 21-3 push that wiped out an early deficit.

UCLA guard Tyger Campbell drives against Long Beach State's Tone Hunter on Nov. 11, 2022.
Bruins guard Tyger Campbell drives against Long Beach State’s Tone Hunter. Campbell, a senior, had 18 points on the night he became the 60th player in school history to score 1,000 points.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
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Cronin said Clark finished with 14 deflections and predicted he would shatter the single-season record in that category for any player he’s coached, barring injury. Clark said he wanted something else as well, mentioning a record that UCLA’s Jordan Adams set in 2013-14 when he tallied 95 steals.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll get the single-season steals record — I already did the math to give myself a little head start,” said Clark, who has 11 steals in two games, “so I’ve got some goals in my head.”

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Big things also appear to be in store for Singleton.

“He’s just a selfless guy and obviously he’s an elite shooter,” Cronin said. “I’m all over Dave about his conditioning and trying to go out with a monster year in his senior year.”

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