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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

No. 2 wants to shake off Gonzaga defeat in bounce-back game at UCLA UNLV

UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin has always wanted more. Despite a happy fan base or joining a win column, he’ll be the first to tell you if the performance isn’t up to his standards.

He wasn’t happy after losing 83-63 to second-placed Bruins to top-ranked Gonzaga in Las Vegas on Tuesday night – that’s to be expected. He said he knew it was coming, even after UCLA’s win over No. 4 Villanova at home a few weeks earlier.

“Defense,” Cronin said, pointing out what his team lacks the most. “All you have to do is look at our numbers from tonight. Everyone was happy after Villanova, and I showed my guys that we only flipped them seven times in our sold-out Crowd home gym, coming down to 10.” fell.

The Bruins (5-1) stayed in Las Vegas through Thanksgiving, and will now play their third straight road game at UNLV (4-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Rebels are 4-0 at home this season.

“You take your show on the road, you better do some brashness and defense,” Cronin said.

However, shot-making will also help. UCLA scored 45% against Bellarmine and just 34% against Gonzaga. The Zags shot 56% in that one-sided game.

“If you’re only going to win when the ball goes inside, you’re going to be a .500 team. Better fill out your NIT papers,” Cronin said.

The team is still without veteran forward Cody Riley, who suffered a knee injury in the team’s home opener on November 9 and has not played since. When the team isn’t shooting well from the perimeter, the 6-foot-9 senior provides a calming interior presence.

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