5 UCLA finds a way to beat Arizona State, extending their winning streak to 14

UCLA's Tiger Campbell (10) drives around Austin Nunez, Ariz. (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

UCLA’s Tiger Campbell (10) drives around Austin Nunez, Arizona (2) during the first half on Thursday in Tempe, Arizona. (Daryl Webb / Associated Press)

Just keep looking through.

This was the mandate for University of California Thursday night, and Fifth-ranked Bruins Entering the Pac-12 Conference showdown with Arizona Hold the nation’s longest winning streak among major conference teams.

Extending the streak would keep the midseason fun going while also preventing the Sun Devils from moving into a tie above the conference standings. It would also move UCLA midway to a desert sweep that ESPN’s Joe Lunardi said could catapult the team to a projected No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

All remained well after the Bruins’ latest escape, a 74-62 win at Desert Financial Arena that came courtesy of a late game of courage.

Losing most of the night by missing two punts and two straight throws, UCLA’s Jaime Jacques Jr. hit a three-pointer and a conversion triple that gave his team a 70-62 lead.

Those shots helped finish the game 16-2 in favor of the Bruins, who desperately needed the extra offense with Tyger Campbell carrying such a heavy burden. Campbell led his team with 22 points while making 7 of 11 shots.

as Campbell banged his forehead with his clenched fists in celebration of his 14thy Winning streak, UCLA guard David Singleton, who had 21 points, put his hand to his ear as he looked at the silent student section.

Jackie can smile after making just four of 12 shots for nine points.

UCLA (17-2 overall, 8-0 Pac-12) held off a barrage of three-pointers from Arizona State, who made nine of 22, including one by Frankie Collins that gave the Sun Devils (15-4, 6-2 ) led 60-58 before UCLA began its late drive.

The Bruins continued to find the energy to come back in the second half.

The Bruins took the lead by as many as six points, and took a 58-57 lead with 6:34 left after freshman quarterback Adem Bona made one of two free throws after he tied the score on a 3-pointer single.

UCLA opened the second half with an old-fashioned Bruin blitz, getting eight straight points to take a 38-35 lead. Campbell made a fumbled layup to complete a three-point play, Singleton buried a three-pointer and Jaylen Clark increased his steal with the return basket.

On their way to this perilous journey, the Bruins were in almost the same position as they were when they faced Arizona Schools last season. They owned the same losing record and only finished two places lower than they had at that point a year earlier.

UCLA hopes the similarities end there.

UCLA's Dylan Andrews greeted Jimmy Jackies Jr. after hitting a three-pointer against Arizona State.

Dylan Andrews (2) greets UCLA player Jimmy Jackies Jr. (24) after hitting a three-pointer against Arizona State late in the second half Thursday in Tempe, Arizona. (Daryl Webb / Associated Press)

The Bruins lost both games, including a three-overtime clunker against an Arizona State team that at the time had more than twice the winning streak. Setbacks were among the factors dropping the Bruins to a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

For Arizona to pull off a collapse last game, they probably need to succeed at one point: three-point accuracy. This was a winning formula for the only two teams that had defeated UCLA before Thursday. Illinois made 48% of its shots from long range, and Baylor LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler combined to make eight of 16 after two days.

UCLA got into the game with a checklist of their own. Near the top was the pressure of more production off the bench that was scoreless last weekend against Colorado. That mission was doubly significant especially given that Arizona’s turnover reaches a depth of 10.

The Bruins case was not helped that freshman guard Amari Bailey missed the sixth straight game due to discomfort in his left foot, forcing Singleton, usually the team’s sixth baseman, to stay on as the starter.

The night was free-knees for UCLA’s Will McClendon and McEtienne, who duplexed their knees for the first time all season in a final farewell to injuries that cost them both last season. But McClendon’s long-distance struggles continued to hold up by three points and Etienne was limited to appearing for eight seconds in the first period.

UCLA freshman Dylan Andrews sparked off the bench with five quick first-half points.

The Sun Devils’ record student section of 5,213 unleashed its fury before the insinuation, chanting “F – Bruins!” The decibel level rose when Desmond Cambridge Jr. sank into a half-court swing at the end of the first half, giving the home team a 35-30 advantage.

Things were quieter about an hour later as the Bruins walked into a tunnel below them, arms raised in the air in celebration.

This story originally appeared Los Angeles Times.

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