Westwood, CA – With UCLA alum Russell Westbrook in attendance, Tyger Campbell led his team, the UCLA Bruin’s (7-1), to a 73-61 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes (6-2) in the Pac-12 Conference season opener on Wednesday evening.
Campbell spoke on what Westbrook said to him during the game and what it meant to him.
“He was just telling me to keep shooting and to keep being aggressive. It means a lot coming from him because he’s such a great player and obviously the legacy that he left here. All of the final fours. It means a lot for him to just even come back and watch us play. I’m just thankful for that.”
UCLA was out in front 39-23 at the halftime break, but Colorado cut it close in the second half.
The Buffaloes trimmed the lead to four points 48-44 with 9:34 minutes remaining.
But Campbell and the crew continued to impose their will.
Campbell hit a three with 2:27 minutes remaining in the final period to lead 69-56.
That was the dagger.
Campbell dropped 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished five assists.
“When I’m out there, I’m just trying to take what the defense gives me,” said Campbell. “My teammates were finding me tonight and they were getting me open. I got some good looks and I just knocked them down. So it wasn’t anything about being super aggressive or thinking about me, I’m thinking about the team and whatever Coach needs me to do.”
Despite the Colorado size advantage, UCLA was scoring at ease down low.
Center Myles Johnson took advantage and scored a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards.
“He had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 14 deflections, so he’s got a UCLA triple-double,” said UCLA head coach Mick Cronin. “What I told him was, ‘That’s what I want to see every game.’ So, for him, being included in the offense and having plays demanded of him, I think he’s been such a nice guy his whole career, people just kind of accepted who he used to be. My message to him coming here: ‘I don’t accept that from anybody.’ I came here to try to win a championship. I want every guy to become a better player, make the N.B.A., play in Europe, whatever. He’s getting pushed here like he never has before.”
Jaime Jaquez Jr. went down at the 12:18 mark in the first half. He was able to get back up and walk off the floor.
Coach Cronin spoke on Jaquez Jr.’s status after his hard fall.
“Obviously Jaime took a hard fall. All our doctors did all the stuff. They actually cleared him, but I just wasn’t comfortable. I wanted to get [assistant coach] Mike Lewis out there to watch him warm up and I’m always erring on the side of safety when I coach my players. I just wasn’t comfortable about it. That’s your job when you’re the coach. Sometimes you’ve got to sit players for themselves. That kid would run through a wall. He says it’s fine. He passed the concussion tests and all of that stuff, but he fell pretty hard on his head.”
UCLA takes a trip to Seattle against the Washington Huskies on Sunday, December 5th at 12:00 p.m.