No. 4 UCLA rallies to beat Stanford and extend nation’s longest active home win streak
Mick Cronin and Tyger Campbell have been in lockstep since Cronin’s arrival nearly four years ago, the feisty coach and his fiery point guard sticking together through nearly every conceivable situation.
Campbell helped spark UCLA’s resurgence on its way to a Final Four, earning Cronin’s trust and the benefit of every doubt even when he endured prolonged struggles.
Their unbreakable bond made what happened Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion stunning.
Campbell began the second half on the bench alongside fellow starting guard Amari Bailey. Cronin did not like their energy as they failed to score or notch one deflection in the first half, their lagging defense a big part of why the Bruins fell behind Stanford by eight points on their home court.
“Like I told him and Amari,” Cronin said of Campbell, “I love them, but it would have been bad coaching to start them” in the second half.
Like he often does, Campbell would have the final say. In the closing minutes, the point guard buried a deep three-pointer. He forced a turnover after his pressure forced Stanford counterpart Michael O’Connell to dribble the ball off his own body.
Then, with Stanford refusing to go away, Campbell found teammate Will McClendon for a three-pointer before making a mid-range jumper.
The flurry of highlights offset his early malaise while helping the fourth-ranked Bruins hold on for a 73-64 victory that extended their home winning streak to 22 games. Campbell walked off the court with his arm around backup Dylan Andrews’ waist after they had exchanged celebratory hand slaps.
The No. 4 Bruins have won 21 consecutive games at Pauley Pavilion and look to go undefeated at home for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
“Tyger’s a good player, man,” Cronin said of the fifth-year senior who finished with seven points and two assists in 24 minutes. “It’s easy for me and for people to criticize, but when you’ve got young kids and they’re under massive pressure, worried about their future, sometimes I fail at keeping their mind on one day at a time.
“And it’s easy to say, ‘They should know that.’ Well, you’ve probably got a job and a savings account. You know, they’re kids with the weight of the world on their shoulders.”
UCLA (22-4 overall, 13-2 Pac-12) held on for its fifth consecutive victory after ratcheting up its defensive pressure, collecting 18 of its 27 deflections in the second half. Not coincidentally, the Bruins outscored the Cardinal 46-33.
Predictably, however, Cronin wasn’t happy that his team needed a huge rally against an opponent with a losing record.
“In life, you usually get what you deserve,” Cronin said. “Our attitude was way too cavalier. We were way overconfident, we weren’t ready for the fight. … We failed as a coaching staff tonight because you can say, ‘Well, we told them,’ but they pay us to make them listen and we told them but we didn’t have them ready. We were not humble tonight but give them credit, the sign of a great team — we were able to turn it around.”
Five days after knocking off Arizona, Stanford (11-15, 5-10) appeared on the verge of another upset, using a 12-0 push to take a 50-45 lead midway through the second half.
That’s when UCLA forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. made a variety of tough shots around the basket and Jaylen Clark (16 points, three steals) pushed the Bruins into a 58-57 lead when he drove for a dunk.
McClendon’s three-pointer extended UCLA’s advantage to 63-59 as the Bruins pulled away. In another performance that boosted his candidacy for Pac-12 player of the year, Jaquez finished with 26 points and nine rebounds.
“This is my last year and I’ve realized that I’ve only got so many games left,” Jaquez said, “so I’m going to go down swinging.”
Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 18 of his 25 points after halftime to power UCLA to a 70-63 win at Oregon that pushed its Pac-12 lead to 1½ games over Arizona.
The ending looked a lot different from the start and the middle.
Things were so off-kilter for the Bruins in the first half that Campbell played only 10 minutes and Jaquez missed consecutive free throws. With Campbell and Bailey on the bench to start the second half, their backups keyed a 16-5 surge, David Singleton making a three-pointer and Andrews contributing an old-fashioned three-point play and an assist.
Cronin said his motivation in benching Campbell and Bailey, who played only four minutes in the second half, wasn’t to send a message.
“I was simply trying to win,” Cronin said. “I believe in Dylan and Will, they just haven’t gotten a lot of extended minutes.”
They did Thursday night, the Bruins needing an ensemble cast to prevail in most unlikely fashion.
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