Despite a grim offensive performance, the No. 21 UCLA Bruins emerged victorious against the Oregon Ducks.
In the first half, the Bruins made 30.3 percent of their shots, scored 21 points, and missed all of their three-point shot attempts. To make matters worse for them, their two veteran leaders, Jaime Jaquez and Tyger Campbell, were struggling.
Jaquez spent much of the half on the bench in foul trouble, while Campbell missed all eight shots he attempted. The touted playmaker, Campbell, also failed to dish out a single assist before the halfway mark.
The Bruins desperately needed a second-half spark, and Amari Bailey came to the rescue.
The freshman guard displayed assertiveness in attacking the basket and scoring without fear, pulling the Bruins out of a six-point halftime deficit. The Bruins won 65-56.
As the scrappy matchup came down to the final minutes, the Bruins effectively ended the game with a dunk. Fittingly, it was Bailey who slammed it in.
“I haven’t felt Pauley erupt like that, so it was pretty cool,” Bailey said regarding the crowd’s reaction following the dunk.
He scored 14 points on 7-12 shooting and grabbed five rebounds while leading the team with a +/- of 23.
“Very rare for a young player to understand shot selection. It shows [Bailey’s] basketball IQ. He has an unbelievable basketball IQ,” said head coach Mick Cronin
Bailey was successful defensively as well, blocking two shots.
His offensive ignition led the Bruins to a more productive second half of 44 points. Jaquez and Campbell finally chipped in, finishing with 12 and ten points, respectively.
Jaylen Clark also scored 14 points but made only four of the 13 shots he tried.
Will McClendon made his collegiate debut after missing last season because of torn ACL. However, the redshirt freshman only played one minute and did not record any statistics.
The Bruins’ win is Cronin’s first against the Ducks as the team’s head coach and one that improves their PAC-12 conference record to 2-0.
After the inefficient outing against the Ducks, the Bruins will look to show their strength versus the Denver Pioneers on Saturday.