LOS ANGELES – UCLA’s immediate goal is to reflect the nightmare of last Tuesday deeper in every game.
Tiger Campbell was undetected against Gonzaga, as were several Bruins in this much-publicized 20-point loss. He attended and was in front of the Pac-12 opening Wednesday night.
Campbell was content to include everyone else in the offensive, as UCLA was 16 points ahead of Colorado at half-time. When the Buffalo returned, Campbell reined in them with 13 points and was unbeaten in the second half of the Bruins’ fifth win 73-61, a game they were leading with just four points with 9:35 remaining.
Campbell scored three baskets in the next four minutes and the Bruins took the lead 12 again. Despite the best efforts of Colorado’s Jabari Walker, whose father Samaki once played for the Lakers, UCLA handled the rest and improved to 7-1.
During the game, Campbell scored 21 points, seven assists and one assists. Coach Mick Cronin thought it was almost as impressive as Miles Johnson’s 12 points, 10 rebounds and 14 center deflections.
Like Johnson, Campbell was the focus of the coach.
“For us to be the team that we want to be in March, he has to play that way,” said Cronin.
“I admitted that he was a young player for the first couple of years trying to develop him to who he could be. Their strategy tonight was to get him to shoot, but I love the fact that he didn’t even hesitate. I’ve seen this guy in practice. ”
“It’s not that I was over-aggressive or anything like that,” Campbell said. “When I’m there, I just look for protection. Tonight my teammates got me the ball and I was able to knock them down.
“But I like to take big pictures. I think every player does this. I believe in myself and I know that the coaches believe in me. ”
Campbell also received some advice from Russell Westbrook, the All-Star Lakers, who donated money for the Bruins’ training court at Ostin Center. He was honored at the Paulie Pavilion on Wednesday.
“It’s just great for me that he comes here and sees us play,” Campbell said. “We remember the days when he was here. He is such a great player. The legacy he left behind with all the Final Fours … he just told me to keep shooting. ”
It was a scoring night for the Bruins, who put Colorado’s 12 RPMs into 23 points. They themselves suffered only nine losses, and Campbell (4 of 7) and Johnny Juzang together had 5 of 10 shots from the three-point line.
Colorado missed 10 of its first 12 shots but averaged 42.1% while Walker averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Cronin was not satisfied with the UCLA defense in the second half, but then Jaime Hakes Jr. played only 7:14 and missed the second half. He hit his head on the court and assistant coach Michael Lewis told Cronin that Hakes “doesn’t look 100 percent” after a half-time warm-up.
Cody Riley is still absent from UCLA, and Cronin hopes that his return, as well as greater comfort for US team member and newcomer Peyton Watson, will speed up the Bruins. To this end, he experimented with five players on the bench for a short period in the first half.
“I think it helped us wear them out in the second half, but I still think Johnny and Tiger played too many minutes,” Cronin said. Juzang had 35 minutes, Campbell 33.
The 6:30 pm kickoff drew 7,941 spectators, although UCLA’s frenzied win over Villanova last month should have made every home game an event.
It would be unwise to write down this winnings as a routine matter. Colorado has won twice at Poly since 2018 and beat the Bruins (70-61) at Boulder last year.
“The margin of error against UCLA is limited,” said Colorado coach Ted Boyle. “Even when they lose someone like Hakes, they keep attacking you.”
Now the UCLA theme is to give up satisfaction. Johnson was the Rutgers defense specialist and Campbell was the point guard, but Cronin is trying to push them away from their definitions.
The Bruins don’t believe in looking back either, but they already know what’s out there.