UCLA beats Arizona in Senior Night send-off, but Jaylen Clark leaves with injury

UCLA's Jaime Jaquez Jr. drives against Arizona's Pelle Larsson on March 4, 2023.
UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. drives against Arizona’s Pelle Larsson on Saturday night. Jaquez had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the Bruins’ 82-73 win and perhaps clinched Pac-12 player of the year.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

The victory secured, this part of the long journey complete, Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. made eye contact in the last minute of their final home game together Saturday night.

As full-throated roars from the sold-out crowd inside Pauley Pavilion washed over them, the UCLA seniors touched foreheads in an acknowledgment of everything they had meant to this team and each other.

Said Campbell: “It’s a crazy feeling that I feel like only me and Jaime can really experience. It’s my brother right here and to go four years with him, it’s been great.”


Said Jaquez: “To me, I think it was, ‘We did it, but at the same time we’re not done.’”

What seniors Jaime Jaquez Jr., Tyger Campbell and David Singleton have meant to the team in restoring UCLA to prominence before showdown with Arizona.

March 3, 2023

Bring on the bigger challenges because these guys showed they could easily handle every obstacle the Pac-12 put in their way. Even eighth-ranked Arizona was no match on a night Campbell, Jaquez and fellow senior David Singleton ensured themselves a happy send-off during the fourth-ranked Bruins’ 82-73 victory.

Singleton buried one three-pointer after another. Campbell continually got the roll on tough jumpers, as if the basketball gods were rewarding him for all those years of toil. Jaquez made a hanging floater on which he was fouled, prompting fans to chant “M-V-P!”

It might have been an entirely feel-good finale on a night the Bruins extended their winning streak to 10 games and finished unbeaten at home for the first time since the 2006-07 season, except for one major setback.

Junior guard Jaylen Clark, the Bruins’ top defender, left the game with what appeared to be a serious injury given that he returned to the bench on crutches. UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Clark would undergo an MRI on Sunday to determine the extent of his injury.

UCLA women’s basketball highly touted freshman players have been at the forefront of the Bruins’ surge into the Pac-12 conference tournament title game.

March 4, 2023

Clark’s departure two minutes into the second half left those seniors to finish things off. Boy, did they ever.

Singleton scored 17 points while making five of nine three-pointers. Campbell tallied 21 points and four assists while making 11 of 12 free throws in what may or may not have been his last home game as a Bruin, given he has one more season of eligibility. And in a performance that might have clinched the Pac-12 player of the year award, Jaquez logged 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals before departing to deafening cheers with 32 seconds left.

Bruins guard Jaylen Clark is fired up after making a three-pointer March 4, 2023.
Bruins guard Jaylen Clark is fired up after he made a first-half three-pointer. Clark, UCLA’s top defender, left the game in the second half with what appeared to be a serious injury.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)

“We were on a mission to put UCLA back on top, put UCLA basketball to where it needs to be and where it should be and where it belongs,” Jaquez said while wearing a Pac-12 champion T-shirt and custom blue hat made by a fan to thank the seniors. “Two guys from SoCal, I mean, we’re living a dream right now to be Pac-12 champs, win the way we did on our home court. It’s literally like a storybook to me.”

Along the way, the Bruins (27-4, 18-2 Pac-12) extended the nation’s longest active home winning streak to 25 games while avenging a loss to the Wildcats (25-6, 14-6) from late January. Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis, Jaquez’s primary challenger for Pac-12 player of the year, finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds for a team that finished four games back in the conference standings.

The Bruins' David Singleton goes up for a shot against the Wildcats' Kylan Boswell.
The Bruins’ David Singleton, who scored 17 points, goes up for a shot against the Wildcats’ Kylan Boswell. UCLA finished unbeaten at home for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
(Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

There was a surprise before tipoff when the Bruins unveiled an all-senior starting lineup that included sixth man Singleton, reserve big man Kenneth Nwuba and walk-on guard Russell Stong IV in addition to regulars Jaquez and Campbell. Making the first start of his career, Stong needed some help from Campbell to figure out where to stand for the opening tip.

But Stong generated instantaneous cheers when he grabbed the first rebound and raised both arms when left open on the wing on his team’s first possession.

“He was supposed to hit a three to start the game,” Cronin said. “Jaime was supposed to set the fade for him; I didn’t think they would guard him.”

The pregame senior tribute included only smiles, no tears. Each player was presented with a framed jersey he hoisted triumphantly into the air. Jaquez’s father wrapped Cronin in a bear hug and lifted him into the air.

“It’s not hard,” cracked Cronin, who kissed the elder Jaquez on the cheek.

This victory could have a lasting impact.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi elevated the Bruins into a No. 1 seed in the West for the NCAA tournament given Saturday’s results.


It was a farewell and, the Bruins hoped, a prelude to something more meaningful.