No. 7 UCLA, without Johnny Juzang, to meet upset-minded Stanford
No. 7 UCLA will need to test their depth again when they play host to Stanford in a Pac-12 game on Saturday night.
The Bruins (15-2, 7-1 Pac-12) will be without leading scorer Johnny Juzang for a second straight game after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and missed an 81-57 win against visiting California that night.
According to Pac-12 health and safety guidelines, asymptomatic players who test positive must be isolated for five days.
"He's highly disappointed," UCLA coach Mick Cronin said of Juzang, who averages 18.1 points a game.
The Bruins, who moved alone atop the Pac-12 standings with their win against Cal, will be up against a Cardinal squad flowing with confidence after upsetting No. 15 USC 64-61 on Thursday at Los Angeles.
It was the first road win for Stanford against a top-25 team in six seasons under coach Jerod Haase, who was 0-12 in that scenario before Thursday.
While the Cardinal (12-6, 5-3) completed the two-game season sweep against USC, they have yet to play UCLA this season. Stanford won the only game scheduled against the Bruins last season, a 73-72 overtime victory in a home game at Santa Cruz, Calif., that halted UCLA's 8-0 start in conference play.
The teams were scheduled to meet earlier this month at Palo Alto, but the game was postponed because of a rise in COVID-19 cases. The contest was rescheduled for Feb. 8.
Haase said he doesn't expect any easy games in conference play the rest of the way.
"The truth is this league is really good," Haase said after a win against Arizona State last week. "Has really good coaches, really good players, and every game is going to be a battle."
Stanford's Michael O'Connell said the Cardinal don't feel any nerves when they go up against higher-ranked opponents.
"Throughout the season we've always kinda had confidence in ourselves," O'Connell said. "Any moment in the game if we're up, down, we can always prevail."
UCLA will also be without Jaylen Clark, who has missed the past two games while in concussion protocol.
The Bruins will likely take on Stanford with the same game plan they used against California. Jaime Jaquez Jr. battled his way to 15 points, five rebounds and four steals.
"Just try to keep that same mentality going out there," Jaquez said. "Trying to be a menace on defense and do whatever I can to try and stop the ball."
Peyton Watson played a season-high 26 minutes off the bench and the freshman poured in a season-best 12 points.
"At the end of the day," Watson said, "it's all about who plays the hardest, who wants it the most, and I want it."
Jaquez said the competition for playing time has just made the Bruins tougher to beat.
"I think we have a really deep team," he said. "When guys have opportunities, they step up and, as you saw, that happened (Thursday) night. Guys like Jake, they really stepped up big (Thursday) night and helped us get this W."
--Field Level Media
Updated January 28, 2022