LOS ANGELES (AP)Defense has long been a trademark of Mick Cronin-coached teams. It is also a significant reason why seventh-ranked UCLA is on its longest-winning streak in six seasons.
On a night when the Bruins shot under 40% for the third time in five games, it was the defense that was able to keep Colorado at bay before UCLA discovered its shooting touch over the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s 68-54 victory.
It is the 13th straight win by the Bruins, which is their longest winning streak since they won their first 13 games in the 2016-17 season.
”We stopped worrying about them and started worrying about getting stops and rebounds,” Cronin said. ”Like I told them at halftime, I’d rather the ball goes in during the second half. It’s a great win anytime the game’s not going your way and you got every reason to get beat and you find a way to win by 14.”
UCLA (16-2, 7-0 Pac-12) forced Colorado to commit a season-high 23 turnovers and held the Buffaloes without a field goal for over nine minutes in the second half.
The Bruins also pulled down a season-high 18 offensive rebounds. Even though UCLA had a 38.1% shooting rate from the field, Colorado was 15 of 49 (30.6%).
”When you play defense, you give yourself a chance. We’re giving ourselves a lot of chances and we’re going to try to keep doing that,” said Jaime Jaquez Jr., who had 23 points and tied a career high with 13 rebounds.
Jaylen Clark scored 18 and Tyger Campbell added 11 for the Bruins.
KJ Simpson led Colorado (11-8, 3-5) with 17 points and Javon Ruffin scored 11.
”They’re a great second-half team. Once they get on a roll like that, and the fans start cheering, you know, it’s hard to beat the team like that,” Simpson said. ”We’ve got to come out and be tougher in the second half.”
Simpson gave Colorado a 44-35 lead midway through the second half on a three-point play before the Bruins took control, scoring 17 straight points to go up 52-44.
After a steal by Jaquez off a bad pass by Ruffin, the Bruins took the lead for good with 8:12 remaining when David Singleton made a pair of free throws for a 45-44 advantage.
The Bruins started the second half 1 of 17 from the field, and missed 14 straight at one point, before regaining their shooting touch.
The Buffaloes, who had a 31-28 lead at halftime, were 6 of 21 from the field and committed 13 turnovers in the final 20 minutes.
”When you get ready to play UCLA, you know you’re in for a fistfight,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. ”They just absolutely abused us on the boards. They were the tougher team tonight.”
Colorado: It is only the second time the Buffaloes have been swept on their Los Angeles road trip since joining the conference. The other time was the 2015-16 season.
UCLA: It is the second time in Mick Cronin’s four seasons in Westwood that the Bruins have started 7-0 in Pac-12 play. They won their first eight in 2020-21.
Colorado: Host Washington on Thursday.
UCLA: Travel to Arizona State on Thursday.
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