It seemed like old times inside Pauley Pavilion for about an hour, and not just because Bill Walton was waving his fingers at a courtside camera and Russell Westbrook tossing T-shirts at the crowd.
The fun was taken to court, with UCLA’s Jaylen Clark driving for a vicious one-handed dunk that was reminiscent of Westbrook’s trick, and Miles Johnson showing that he could eliminate some of the offense to go along with his proactive defense. There can be a two-way force.
But the dominance and parallels of the fifth-place Bruins came to an end amid a role reversal in the second half of their Pac-12 Conference opener on Wednesday night, with UCLA chilling out while Colorado was uncomfortably a jerk. was taking shape. Play.
When Colorado’s Jabari Walker made two free throws with 9½ minutes to go, the Buffaloes were only down four points and the Bruins were on track to miss eight shots in a row. The uneasiness was evident inside the renovated area.
If UCLA wanted to assure itself of an unbeaten stay at home, it needed to find a way to eliminate all vacant property and find some offense. The Bruins got the big plays they needed from the youngest player on the court, a push by Tiger Campbell to propel his team to a 73–61 victory that deserved more as a sigh of relief than any kind of declaration of greatness. Was.
5-foot-11 Campbell provided a driving layup, a three-pointer and a jumper to promote the 11-3 run that significantly reduced the anxiety level for the Bruins (7-1, 1-0). Campbell added another three-pointer and finished with one of his strongest performances, with 21 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists, while getting some encouragement from Westbrook in his courtside seat.
“He was just telling me to keep shooting and be aggressive,” said Campbell, who made eight of 16 shots and four of seven three-pointers. “It means a lot to him, because he is such a great player. And obviously the legacy he has left here – all the last fours. It means a lot to him to come back and watch us play.”
The Bruins continued without guard with their second leading scorer Jaime Jacques Jr., who played only seven minutes after hitting his head on the court in the first half and kept the rest of the game out as a precaution.
Johnson provided a pick-me-up with a season-high 12 points and 10 rebounds on a five-for-six shooting as part of his first double-double as the Bruins. He was even more prolific on defense, consistently deflecting the dice and twice preventing the Buffaloes from going inside the ball while his Colorado counterpart accused Ivan Batty as a non-factor.
One game after leading his team to a career-high 22 points in a win over Stanford, Batty was out in just 15 minutes with four points and two rebounds, while being overwhelmed by Johnson.
“He’s got 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 deflections, so he’s got a UCLA triple-double,” said UCLA coach Mick Cronin. “What I told him is what I want to see every game.”
There was great concern in the middle of the first half when Jacques fell under the basket after a foul, his head hitting the hardwood and echoing across the field. Jacques eventually rises by Cronin and a trainer before heading to the locker room.
Cronin said doctors cleared Jaquez to return after assistant coach Michael Lewis saw him take some warmup shots at halftime, but Cronin decided to keep him out in a protective move.
Batty fought hard, airballing a three-pointer and taking his second foul, was out in the first half with only two points and two turnovers. Walker led the Buffaloes (6-2, 1-1) with 22 points.
“We want Westbrook!” He was rewarded in the first half when former Bruin and current Laker took a ball from UCLA hero Tuce Edney as honorary captain and received a standing ovation. Westbrook had an excellent view of Clark’s signature dunk that the Bruins followed with a Jules Bernard three-pointer to give them a 33-16 lead.
Things took a dramatic turn before UCLA comfortably won that students chanted “We Want Russell!” unveiled. Chanting at the last minute, pointing to a walk-on at Russell Stong, who didn’t get off the bench to meet the demand.