At a time when it could use a boost, UCLA has gotten a little deeper, more athletic and increasingly dynamic on offense.
Amari Bailey is back.
The freshman guard, who missed the last seven games with a left foot ailment, may return Thursday against USC at the Galen Center, coach Mick Cronin said Wednesday.
The eighth-ranked Bruins went 6-1 in the absence of Bailey, despite extended offensive breaks in several games. Bailey was able to compensate for some shortcomings with his superior passing game and his speed. His ability to get to the basket can attract multiple defenders, giving him an opportunity to find open teammates if he can’t find a suitable shot.
Averaging 9.5 points and 3.3 rebounds while hitting 36.4% of his threes, Bailey suffered his first injury last month when Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe stepped on his foot. Bailey played UC Davis in the next game four days later before worsening the injury and missing the next month.
Should he return to the starting lineup, Bailey’s return would allow senior guard David Singleton to resume his sixth-man role while bolstering a bench poorly matched with Singleton’s start. UCLA’s bench was outclassed by their peers with a 10-4 lead against Arizona, 12-7 against Arizona State, 16-0 against Colorado and 22-5 in the first meeting against USC.
Singleton missed all five shots and was part of a teamwide slump that doomed UCLA (17-3 overall, 8-1 Pac-12) in a 58-52 loss to Arizona last weekend. The Bruins shot a season-low 31.3% and made four of 20 three-pointers (20%).
What is the key to better shooting?
“Happened,” Cronin said earlier this week. “I always tell you this – passing is the key to a good offense. Also add good screening.”
One of the top 25 teams in the nation by almost any objective measure, UCLA was not voted by Associated Press voter David Thompson — no, not the David Thompson – this week. It’s nothing personal, Thompson said. “It was never my plan to overlook UCLA,” said Thompson, who writes for the Fayetteville Observer. “I made a human error and forgot to include the Bruins in my poll.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/story/2023-01-25/amari-bailey-return-ucla-usc-basketball Amari Bailey available to return for UCLA in USC showdown