UCLA Tops Arizona On Senior Night; jaylen clark injured

Long before the first game of the season, Mick Cronin was gearing up for this night.

It was going to be painful for the UCLA coach to bid farewell to his seniors in their final home game. Making the Bruins a national championship contender once again this season, there was no way for the Bruins to be on guard against the innocuous sentiments unleashed by a resurgent group.

Luckily for Cronin, those seniors were bent on making it a happy send-off.

David Singleton buried three-pointers one after another. Tiger Campbell consistently got to roll on tough jumpers, like the gods of basketball were rewarding him for all those years of toil. Jaime Jaquez Jr. made a hanging floater in which he was fouled, prompting the sellout crowd to chant “MVP!”

The Giants pushed No. 4 UCLA to an 82-73 victory over No. 8 Arizona at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday night, which could have come at a significant cost, even as the Bruins extended their winning streak to 10 games and took home But remained unbeaten. for the first time since the 2006–07 season.

The Bruins’ top defender, junior guard Jaylen Clark, left the game in the second half with what appeared to be a groin injury that saw him return to the bench on crutches.

It left those superiors to work things out. Boy, did they ever.

Tiger Campbell of UCLA handles the ball against Kylen Boswell of Arizona during the first half.

UCLA’s Tiger Campbell, who had 21 points, five rebounds and four assists, handles the ball against Arizona’s Kylen Boswell. The Bruins earned their 10th win to end the regular season.

(Ringo HW Chiu / The Associated Press)

Singleton scored 17 points and made five of nine three-pointers. Campbell tallied 21 points, five rebounds and four assists. And in a performance that may have won him the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year award, Jacquez had 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals.

In the final minute, before Campbell stepped over the free-throw line, Jacquez and Campbell celebrated by pressing their heads together. After Campbell made the first free throw, Jacquez went on to roar from the crowd. Campbell and Singleton then went on to more cheers after the next free throw.

Along the way, the Bruins (27–4 overall, 18–2 Pac-12) avenged an earlier loss to the Wildcats (25–6, 14–6) by extending the nation’s longest active home winning streak to 25 games. increased. Season. Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out for a team that finished four games adrift in the conference standings.

The crowd was in a celebratory mood after UCLA rolled away the first eight points of the second half to build a 48–37 lead, but there was an important warning. After a steal in the backcourt, Clark had to be helped to the locker room, after which he layup before limping awkwardly toward the bench.

On March 4, 2023, Bruins guard Jaylen Clark was fouled after making a three-pointer.

Bruins guard Jaylen Clark fouled after making a three-pointer in the first half. UCLA’s top defender, Clark, left the game in the second half with a groin injury.

(Ringo HW Chiu / The Associated Press)

A surprise came before tipoff when the Bruins unveiled an all-senior starting lineup that included regulars Jacquez and Campbell in addition to sixth man Singleton, reserve big man Kenneth Nuba and walk-on guard Russell Stong. Making his first start of his career, Stong needed some help from Campbell on where to stand for the opening wicket.

But he generated almost immediate cheers when he grabbed the first rebound of the game and left it wide open on the wing on his team’s first possession. The makeshift lineup lasted all 67 seconds before Cronin reverted to his regulars.

The pregame senior tribute between the players included only smiles, no tears. Each was presented with a framed jersey which they triumphantly hoisted into the air. Jacquez’s father wraps Cronin in a bear hug and lifts him into the air, with Cronin raising a victorious fist in the air.

There was more to Bruce’s agenda than a happy send-off. Defeating Arizona would solidify UCLA’s NCAA tournament run, which has been a point of contention since the selection committee’s initial top seed listed the Bruins behind the Wildcats a few weeks earlier.

Most mock brackets since then had UCLA elevated over Arizona, but a win over the Wildcats put the issue to rest and kept the Bruins in the running for the No. 1 seed.

The opening minute went about as bad as possible for the overamped Bruins. Almost every shot long, he missed 12 of his first 12 attempts as Arizona raced to a 13–2 lead that left the crowd restless. But as they had two nights earlier, when they also fell behind by double digits against Arizona State, the Bruins rallied relentlessly.

David Singleton of the Bruins goes for a shot against Kylen Boswell of the Wildcats.

David Singleton of the Bruins, who scored 17 points, went for a shot against Kylen Boswell of the Wildcats. UCLA went undefeated at home for the first time since the 2006–07 season.

(Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

UCLA’s 40–37 halftime lead came courtesy of Singleton, who made four of five three-pointers, and some active defense that got the crowd excited. Students who camped out and waited in a line that snaked around campus were treated to pizza delivered by Cronin earlier in the day and snacks from his team.

It was both a farewell and, the Bruins hoped, a prelude to something even more meaningful. Next up is a Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal game against Washington or Colorado on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena. The NCAA tournament comes up a week later and a deep run is expected in March.

There is always the possibility that these senior players could once again return to their home courts if a banner is to be raised.

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