Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA hold off Stanford to win Pac-12 opener

The massive early run and all the turnovers forced by UCLA would not make for the easy evening the Bruins once envisioned.

A sloppy stretch in the second half helped turn a crowd of Maples Pavilion, which once made more noise for the visitors, back squarely in favor of the home side.

When Stanford’s Brandon Angel rose for a three-pointer Thursday night with a 41/2-minute lead, a UCLA lead that had once stood at 23 points was down to eight, and the tension in the old building was palpable.

It was then that the Bruins turned to a savvy friend to get them through the tough times.

Senior forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. put a short jump on the bench and set up a layup amid a sea of ​​bodies to help the No. 21 Bruins earn an 80-66 win in the Pac-12 conference opener , after scoring the first 17 points of the game.

“Your first road game is your scariest road game, especially with all our freshmen,” said UCLA coach Mick Cronin, “so I was really happy with the way we started and we rode the rest of the way like that. “

Jaquez finished 12-for-17 shooting with 27 points to help UCLA (6-2 overall, 1-0 Pac-12) make 59.3% of their shots and withstand a sloppy second half, in After committing 13 turnovers, Bruins fans finally exhale with an eight-clap with about 11/2 minutes remaining.

Freshman guard Amari Bailey added 19 points and senior guard Tyger Campbell added 17 points and eight assists for the Bruins, who held the Cardinal (3-5, 0-1) with 45.3% shooting and 17 turnovers.

The game didn’t appear to be heading for a dramatic ending given its one-sided start. Just a few seconds after the tipoff, UCLA’s Jaylen Clark doubled along with Brandon Ingram, the extra help confusing the Stanford forward and forcing a travel injury.

The Cardinal couldn’t even get the ball halfway on his next possession. A 10-second injury continued a procession of sales that made it seem like Stanford had never faced press in court.

Stanford’s first nine possessions ended in vain. Seven turnovers and two misses later, the Cardinal remained scoreless. UCLA had scored the first 17 points of the game while shooting all eight.

“That was a great way to come out and just put our foot on her neck,” Bailey said.

The chant, which serenaded the Bruins after Jaquez stole an inbounds pass for a breakaway dunk, provided comforting familiarity in their first real away game of the season.

Stanford guard Michael Jones seems to pass while UCLA guard Amari Bailey defends against forward Spencer Jones.

Stanford guard Michael Jones (13) appears to be holding while UCLA guard Amari Bailey (5) defends against forward Spencer Jones (14) in Thursday’s first half in Palo Alto.

(Godofredo A. Vasquez / Associated Press)

“UCLA!” fans screamed.

Jaquez said the most important part of the opening sprint was the Bruins’ defense.

“The key was disrupting their offense and not letting them run their sets,” Jaquez said. “They are a big setplay team. So if we didn’t let them run their sets, we just thought they were going to get lost and didn’t know what to do.”

The Bruins led 50-29 at halftime after shooting 62.9% to Stanford’s 43.5% and forcing nine Cardinal turnovers.

Highlights included what looked like a Bailey trapeze act, considering how he flew towards the basket for a put back dunk, which saw his teammates flapping towels on the bench in celebration.

“Our ball movement in the first half was the best it’s been since I’ve been playing side-by-side here,” Cronin said. “It was a layup exercise.”

Cronin blamed his team’s disappointment in the second half, saying he should have played his reserves more to keep his starters fresh and the intensity as high as the game started.

Jaquez played 37 minutes, Campbell 36 and Bailey 32, numbers Cronin regretted even after his team clinched their third straight win.

More help could be on the way soon. Cronin said Will McClendon, a redshirt freshman who missed last season with a knee injury, could make his collegiate debut Sunday against Oregon, giving the Bruins another option.

McClendon has already helped by providing another practice panel that has allowed UCLA to improve on the full-court press that has worked so effectively in the last two games.

“There’s just so many things to learn when you have all these freshmen, just so much to teach,” Cronin said. “The press is the last.”

If the way the Bruins unleashed it in the first half is any indication, they’re a fast learner.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/ucla/story/2022-12-01/ucla-basketball-vs-stanford-basketball-recap Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA hold off Stanford to win Pac-12 opener

Emma Bowman

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