Westwood, CA – The No. 13 UCLA Bruins (20-5, 12-4 Pac-12) wrapped up an undefeated three-game homestead and survived a close game against the Arizona State Sun Devils (10-16, 6-10 Pac-12) to defend home court 66-52 on Monday evening.
The Sun Devils gained some momentum as Arizona State guard Marreon Jackson shot a floater to cut the UCLA lead to one point 46-45 with eight minutes left.
UCLA denied the Sun Devils a chance to take the lead and went up by 10 points 62-52 with a minute and ten seconds remaining.
Senior guard Jules Bernard scored 16 points and stated how the Bruins were able to persevere after the Sun Devils cut down the deficit.
“Defensive intensity, deflections. We had a lot of deflections in the first half and then we started off slow in the beginning of the second half – I think the first eight minutes, or so. We really started to ramp up the defense and even when we weren’t getting deflections, we were forcing them near halfcourt in their offense so they had to play everything from further back from the hoop, and late in their shot clock with pick and rolls. We just picked up our intensity on defense.”
Jaylen Clark has been a man on a mission over the past three games averaging 19.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.7 steals.
Against Arizona State he put up 16 points, nine rebounds, three steals and finished the game with an exclamation point with a steal and a monstrous dunk that erupted the crowd.
“I feel like, for this team, I’m an energizer bunny,” said Clark. “So just making plays like that, I feel like – when the arena gets loud, it just lifts the whole team. Everybody gets energy out of nowhere. I try to be as animated as possible sometimes after making crazy plays like that, just to get everybody going and the crowd into it.”
UCLA head coach Mick Cronin praised Clark’s strengths and basketball IQ.
“When I evaluated him, I thought the best thing he did on offense was pass. That’s a rarity of today’s player. Some guys have explosiveness, but they don’t have toughness and a nose for the ball. The thing that he has that he can’t teach is his nose for the ball. He just has an unbelievable nose for the ball. Whether it’s coming off the rim, it’s on the ground, his anticipation of the passing lane – you can’t teach it.”
In their first matchup against the Sun Devils, UCLA lost to Arizona State on Feb. 5 in triple overtime 87-84 in Tempe, Arizona.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. commented on if that wild loss was in the back of their minds.
“Yeah. We know we let one slip away when we were down there in Tempe, so we had to make sure when we were at home, that no one comes in here and gets a W. We just wanted to protect home court and do whatever it took to win.”
Johnny Juzang and Cody Riley both returned to the floor with 10 points and three points respectively.
Tyger Campbell was out due to an injured left shoulder, and Peyton Watson was also ruled out due to a left knee injury.
The Bruins go on the road to face the Oregon Ducks in a three-game road trip on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.
UCLA returns to Pauley Pavilion for their last game of the regular season against the USC Trojans on Saturday, March 5 at 7 p.m.