No. 13 UCLA looks for shooting touch as Washington State visits
Amid some troublesome shooting woes on the road, No. 13 UCLA will return home Thursday for a meeting with Washington State, which is seeking its own reversal of fortune.
UCLA (17-5, 9-4 Pac-12) dropped three games on a four-game road swing, the most recent coming Saturday against cross-town rival Southern California 67-64. It was the Bruins' fifth consecutive loss to the Trojans, who were ranked No. 21 last week, sending Trojans fans into a frenzy.
"The way we're playing, I don't know why anyone would storm the court for beating us," UCLA head coach Mick Cronin said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The road troubles, which began when the Bruins were ranked No. 3 and on a six-game winning streak, started with defeats at Arizona (76-66 on Feb. 3), and Arizona State (87-84 in triple overtime Feb. 5).
UCLA rebounded with a victory at Stanford last week before falling to the Trojans.
UCLA shot just 29.7 percent (19 of 64) from the field against USC, including 25 percent (9 of 36) in the second half when the game was on the line.
In their three defeats over the past two weeks, the Bruins made just 35.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range.
Versatile forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. is playing through ankle issues, while guard Jules Bernard is shooting just 32.1 percent from the field over his past five games and has made just 3-of-22 (13.6 percent) from 3-point range. He was 1-of-9 shooting against USC.
"You can't control whether the ball goes in or turnovers sometimes, but we can control our energy and effort, so we've just got to start playing harder, like we were," said Tyger Campbell, the lone UCLA player to show up against USC, scoring 27 points on 6-of-13 from the field and 13-of-14 from the foul line.
In early February, Washington State (14-10, 7-6) was building a case for an NCAA Tournament berth, winning five in a row for a 7-3 conference record. But the Cougars have lost three since then -- their longest losing streak of the season.
They followed a rough homestand against the Arizona schools last week (72-60 to Arizona, 58-55 to Arizona State) with a 62-59 loss at Oregon on Monday.
Against Oregon, the Cougars' Michael Flowers made two 3-pointers in the final 25 seconds, but a third that would have tied the game with three seconds remaining was off the mark. Flowers finished with a team-high 23 points.
"It's a (tough) run here and we have to fight our way out of it," Washington State head coach Kyle Smith said. "I'm proud that we kept coming (against Oregon) and it will be a real challenge come Thursday. ... We'll head down Wednesday and then play an NBA schedule, I guess, with classes."
UCLA will host Washington on Saturday night, while the Cougars will visit No. 17 USC on Sunday.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 16, 2022