No. 11 UCLA defeats Washington 74-49 for 10th straight win

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SEATTLE, Wash. — Adem Bona scored a career-high 18 points, Jaime Jaquez Jr. added another 17, and No. 11 UCLA defeated Washington 74-49 on Sunday night.

It was the Bruins’ 10th straight victory to close out their Pacific Northwest road trip.

“Winning is contagious,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said of the Bruins streak. “Anybody that I can give advice to that gets a head coaching job . you can never accept losing.”

David Singleton added 14 points for the Bruins (13-2, 4-0 Pac-12) and Tyger Campbell had 15 points and 11 assists.

“This is one that we needed really bad,” said Jaquez, who added seven rebounds and five assists. “We didn’t play really well in Washington (State) and we knew that, so we had to come back as a collective.”

Washington (9-6, 1-3) has dropped their last three, two against ranked opponents. The Huskies were led by junior center Braxton Meah, notching a season high 20 points on 9 of 10 shooting. Senior Cole Bajema tallied nine points.

“For the most part, I like how we battled,” Washington head coach Mike Hopkins said. “UCLA is one of the top teams in the country for a reason. They were physical with us, the refs let us play. We missed some shots we normally make.”

Washington was held to 35% from the field (19-55) and 2 of 25 from 3-point range.

UCLA finished 45% from the field (29-64) and hit 9 of 23 3-point attempts. UCLA narrowly edged Washington in the rebound battle (36-34).

“We have a saying – uncomfortable teams shoot a low percentage,” Cronin said.

UCLA held Washington’s leading scorer senior Keion Brooks to a season-low six points, hitting 1 of 7 attempts from the field and 4 of 4 from the free throw line.

He didn’t make a basket in the second half.

“We tried to make sure we didn’t let him get the ball easily and get one on one opportunities,” Cronin said.

Bona, the freshman forward from Nigeria, along with making 8 of 10 from the field, blocked three shots including one from 3-point range.

“I will say I did good today on both ends,” Bona said. “I tried my best in any way possible to win.”

UCLA never trailed after a 12-0 run early in the first half gave them a 17-6 advantage. They held the Huskies 0-7 from the field during that spurt before Meah scored to cut the deficit to 17-8 with 11:30 remaining in the half.

Washington hit its first 3-pointer from Koren Johnson with 5:09 left in the first half after starting 0-10 from beyond the arc.

The Huskies trailed by five in the final minutes of the first before a pair of 3s from Singleton and Campbell gave the Bruins a 36-27 advantage at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

UCLA: Freshman guard Amari Bailey missed his second straight game because of a sore foot. Singleton stepped in to make his second start of the season on the road trip, scoring in double figures and hitting all four free throws.

Washington: The Huskies face another tough challenge on the road with No. 5 Arizona on Thursday. It’s their fourth ranked opponent in their last seven games.

UP NEXT

UCLA: The Bruins return home and host Southern Cal on Thursday.

Washington: The Huskies travel to No. 5 Arizona on Thursday.

Rice leads No. 10 UCLA to 82-74 win over No. 17 Oregon

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EUGENE, Ore. — Freshman Kiki Rice had 21 points and seven assists to lead No. 10 UCLA to an 82-74 victory over 17th-ranked Oregon on Friday night.

UCLA (13-1, 2-0 Pac-12) senior guard Charisma Osborne added 17 points before leaving the game in the fourth quarter due to an injury.

Senior guard Endyia Rogers had 18 points and five assists to lead the Ducks (10-3, 1-1). Freshman Grace VanSlooten and junior guard Te-Hina Paopao each had 17 points.

UCLA led 54-48 after three quarters and pulled away with a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter.

Rice converted a three-point play to open the quarter before Gabriela Jaquez added a basket. Gina Conti converted back-to-back buckets to put UCLA ahead 63-48. Emily Bessoir made a 3-pointer that pushed the Bruins to a 68-50 lead before Oregon scored 11 points in a row.

Oregon closed within 70-64 on a 3-pointer by Paopao before UCLA’s Camryn Brown made a three-point play with 3:27 left.

Oregon rallied from a 38-32 halftime deficit and took a 43-42 lead on a basket by Phillipina Kyei early in the third quarter. UCLA responded with eight straight points, including four straight by Osborne for a 50-43 advantage. Brown capped off the quarter with a bucket to put UCLA ahead 54-48.

Rice scored 15 points in the opening half and Osborne added 11 as the pair combined to make 4 of 8 3-pointers. Rogers scored 12 to pace the Ducks in the half.

BIG PICTURE:

UCLA: The Bruins are tied for first place in the conference and validated their top-10 ranking with a road win over the Ducks.

UCLA’s only loss was 73-64 at No. 1 South Carolina, and the Bruins also have a 80-63 win over Tennessee, which was ranked No. 11 at the time. The Bruins have a showdown at home looming against No. 2 Stanford in two weeks.

Oregon: All three of Oregon’s losses have come against ranked teams as UCLA joined No. 3 Ohio State and No. 13 North Carolina as teams that have beaten the Ducks. Oregon has a win over No. 24 Arkansas as it looks to build its postseason resume.

UP NEXT:

UCLA: The Bruins visit Oregon State on Sunday.

Oregon: The Ducks host USC on Sunday.

Jaquez leads No. 16 UCLA past No. 13 Kentucky 63-53 at MSG

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NEW YORK – After a terrific East Coast road trip, UCLA coach Mick Cronin is eager to ditch this December chill and savor the spoils in sunshine.

“We’re going home, and it’s going to be 75 (degrees),” he said. “I’m grilling out on Christmas.”

Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 19 points and 12 rebounds as No. 16 UCLA turned back No. 13 Kentucky 63-53 in a matchup of college basketball royalty Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Jaylen Clark added 15 points and eight rebounds, and Tyger Campbell also scored 15 for the streaking Bruins (10-2). UCLA won its seventh straight game and passed another early test away from Pauley Pavilion following an 87-60 blowout Wednesday night at No. 20 Maryland.

“We know what we’re capable of if we play with the toughness we played with this week,” Cronin said.

Freshman forward Chris Livingston led the Wildcats (7-3) with a career-high 14 points off the bench, and Sahvir Wheeler had 11 points and six assists.

Big man Oscar Tshiebwe, the consensus 2022 national player of the year, pulled down 16 rebounds but was held to eight points – two in the second half – on 4-of-12 shooting as the Bruins double- and triple-teamed him.

“I haven’t lost any faith in the team. I’m disappointed,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “There’s a lot of things that I would say, like, we’re better than this. But we’re going to have to show it.”

UCLA owns 11 national championships, most of any school, while Kentucky ranks second with eight. Chanting fans of both blue-blood programs packed Madison Square Garden for a CBS Sports Classic game the Bruins led almost the entire way despite hitting only two 3-pointers and going 7 for 15 at the free throw line.

“MSG is something I’ve always wanted to be a part of, always wanted to play in,” Jaquez said. “When I found out we were coming here, this was marked on my calendar. … I’m just so happy we won here.”

After trailing by 13 late in the first half, Kentucky went into the break down eight, but opened the second period on a 13-5 spurt behind eight points from Livingston to tie the score twice.

Jaquez responded with a basket inside before feeding David Singleton for a 3-pointer that capped a 6-0 spurt, and the Bruins held on the rest of the way. Kentucky trimmed it to 55-53 with 4 1/2 minutes left, but Campbell hit a tough basket in the lane and UCLA scored the final eight points to pull away.

“I would say that became a bloodbath. At some point, I don’t know, it became a Big East game,” Cronin said. “We were really tough down the stretch on the backboard and loose balls, and that was the key for us.”

BIG PICTURE

UCLA: The experienced Bruins made 11 steals and stamped themselves legitimate title contenders with another impressive win against tough competition away from home. They are 7-0 since consecutive losses in Las Vegas to then-No. 19 Illinois and then-No. 5 Baylor in November.

“We had a lot to prove this trip,” Jaquez said. “We knew that we dropped two in Vegas, and we knew we were a much more capable team than we showed. We were on a mission to get better every day and prepare for this and show the world what we can do.”

Kentucky: Despite a whopping 21 offensive rebounds, the Wildcats were outrebounded 43-42 overall and struggled in every other facet on offense. They shot just 33% from the field, including 6 of 21 from 3-point range (29%), and went 5 for 13 at the foul line.

“We miss so many open shots, it becomes demoralizing, and the crazy thing is we still could have won the game,” Calipari said. “We have good shooters. We’re one of the better 3-point shooting teams, and we missed.”

Kentucky also committed 18 turnovers, 12 in the first half, and did not score a point on the fast break. The Wildcats are still looking for their first win over an AP Top 25 opponent this season. They had won four in a row since losing 88-72 at then-No. 2 Gonzaga on Nov. 20. Kentucky also lost in double overtime to Michigan State on Nov. 15.

“We’ll get better,” Calipari said.

FAMILY AFFAIR

New York Knicks power forward Obi Toppin, the reigning NBA slam dunk contest champion, was in the stands with family at his home arena cheering on his younger brother. Kentucky senior Jacob Toppin, born in Brooklyn, had a rough night though, scoring only five points on 2-for-10 shooting. He did grab seven rebounds. Obi Toppin is currently sidelined by a knee injury.

UP NEXT

UCLA: Will host UC Davis from the Big West on Wednesday before resuming Pac-12 play after Christmas with a visit to Washington State on Dec. 30.

Kentucky: Plays host to Florida A&M on Wednesday night before opening the SEC schedule with a trip to Missouri on Dec. 28.

No. 8 UCLA picked to win Pac-12 in preseason poll

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No. 8 UCLA has been picked to win the Pac-12.

The Bruins received 26 first-place votes from a 33-person media panel in the poll. No. 17 Arizona, No. 21 Oregon, Southern California and Stanford rounded out the top five. The Wildcats and Ducks each received three first-place votes and the Cardinal one.

UCLA has four of its top seven scorers back from a team that finished runner-up in the Pac-12 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament last season. The Bruins also added a stellar freshman class, headed by Amari Bailey and Adem Bona, both top-20 recruits.

Arizona won the Pac-12 last season, its first under coach Tommy Lloyd, and also reached the Sweet 16. The Wildcats lost three players to the NBA for the second straight season, but have a strong core returning and added several veterans who should contribute right away.

Oregon is looking to return to the NCAA Tournament after struggling defensively last season. The Ducks added several transfers and 7-foot freshman Kel’el Ware, one of the top recruits in the 2022 recruiting class.

UCLA basketball lands 6-7 Abramo Canka of Italy

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LOS ANGELES — UCLA has added 6-foot-7 Abramo Canka of Italy to its basketball roster for the upcoming season.

Canka (ZAHN-kuh) signed a grant-in-aid and will enroll as a freshman this fall, the school said Wednesday.

The NCAA cleared Canka to join UCLA after he recently played with Lokomotiv Kuban, a professional team in Russia. He averaged 10.9 points and 3.7 rebounds in the Russian Superleague. The guard-forward has also played on Italy’s national team at various age levels.

Canka averaged 9.4 points and 2.1 rebounds for Italy at the FIBA Under-20 European Championship last month.

“We are really excited to add Abramo to our program this season,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said. “Playing in Europe, Abramo is a versatile player who can shoot the ball, rebound and pass. At 6-foot-7, we like his size and his defensive ability, especially with his length and athleticism.”

Canka joins an incoming freshman class of guards Dylan Andrews, Amari Bailey and Jack Seidler and forwards Adem Bona and Evan Manjikian.

Newsom wants explanation from UCLA about move to Big Ten

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LOS ANGELES — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is demanding an explanation from UCLA officials about their move to the Big Ten Conference.

Newsom attended Wednesday’s UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco. The closed-door meeting was the first since UCLA and Southern California announced on June 30 that the schools would be leaving the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten in 2024. USC is a private institution and not part of the UC system.

Newsom – an ex officio member of the Board of Regents – is among others asking how the move will benefit all student-athletes, as well as how to mitigate the financial effects it will cause to UC Berkeley, California’s other public university in the Pac 12.

UCLA and UC Berkeley have played each other in football since 1923.

“The first duty of every public university is to the people – especially students,” Newsom said in a statement. “UCLA must clearly explain to the public how this deal will improve the experience for all its student-athletes, will honor its century-old partnership with UC Berkeley, and will preserve the histories, rivalries, and traditions that enrich our communities.”

The UC Board of Regents cannot force UCLA to reverse the decision. In 1991, campus chancellors were delegated authority by the UC Office of the President to execute their own contracts, including intercollegiate athletic agreements.

The regents though could require UCLA pay UC Berkeley an exit fee for leaving the Pac-12 or share TV revenues they will gain from a move to the Big Ten.

UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on June 30 that changes to the landscape of collegiate athletics prompted the move. UCLA’s athletic department, which sponsors 23 sports, is facing a $102.8-million deficit with most of that coming the past couple years.

“They’re gonna compete at the highest level in a major elite conference in different time zones, UCLA is always national. But now we have the ability for student athletes to showcase their talent across the country,” Jarmond said. “I appreciate the Pac-12. That said, my, my focus first and foremost is our student athletes, and what is best for our student athletes. And when you look at the landscape and how dynamic is changing, the Big Ten was the right move at the right time for us.”