Home Los Angeles News No. 9 UCLA hosts Washington seeking to shake two-game skid

No. 9 UCLA hosts Washington seeking to shake two-game skid

No. 9 UCLA hosts Washington seeking to shake two-game skid

UCLA is making a habit out of doing things in twos. Of course, most baskets are worth two points, but that correlation is low-hanging fruit. However, there is a deeper correlation when it comes to twos for the Bruins: losing in pairs.

Ninth-ranked UCLA has just four losses this season, the losses came two at a time.

The first time was in Las Vegas, dropping to Illinois and Baylor in mid-November. The Bruins responded with a 14-game winning streak that included wins in College Park against Maryland and in Madison Square Garden against Kentucky – in the same week. It also included two wins on the road against the Washington schools.

Well, here they are again, amid a pair of losses, one to Arizona (58-52) in Tucson and at USC (77-64) last Thursday.

It’s wishful thinking to assume UCLA will rip off another 14 consecutive wins. However, it’s not farfetched to think the Bruins have a good chance of putting themselves back in the win column with an opportunity against Washington in a Pac-12 Conference matchup at 6 p.m. Thursday at Pauley Pavilion on FS1.

“We don’t really talk about whether we won or lost as much as you think,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “I understand if you’re a fan, it’s the bottom line … you gotta focus on getting better. Even if we win, I might not think we played well. There are compartments to a season. You’re always working to get better and you’re always working towards March.”

UCLA (17-4, 8-2 Pac-12) claimed its biggest win margin against a conference opponent this season when it beat the Huskies 74-49 on Jan. 1 in Seattle. Four UCLA players scored in double figures, led by Adem Bona’s career-best 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

One reason for UCLA being a favorite to win Thursday night is the Bruins aren’t easy to beat at home. UCLA is 11-0 this season at Pauley Pavilion and a combined 36-2 at home since the 2020-21 season. Cronin believes defending home court is an integral part of a strong résumé come March.

“You have to win at home,” Cronin said. “If you want to compete for a conference championship, you gotta win at home. If you want a high seed in the NCAA Tournament, you have to try to go undefeated at home.”

UCLA was uncharacteristic in its last loss to USC, turning the ball over more than the Trojans. It was the first time UCLA had done that all year. A trend or an anomaly?

“Very rare for us in our last game, turning the ball over and gave up 20 points off turnovers,” Cronin said.

Cronin pointed out a more common denominator in the last two losses, however.

“They’ve gotten physical. We are a low-foul team, we need to make adjustments to the way the game is being called,” he said.

Heading into this week’s games against Washington (13-10, 5-7) and Washington State, Jaime Jaquez Jr. leads the team in scoring for UCLA at 16.0 points per game while nabbing 7.2 rebounds. Tyger Campbell is notching 13.8 points, Jaylen Clark is adding 13.4 points and David Singleton is averaging 10.4 points per game this season.

“When we drop a game, we don’t really talk about losing. We just talk about how we can get better from that game,” Campbell said. “There’s a lot of focus on our game this Thursday.”

Washington (13-10, 5-7) at UCLA (17-4, 8-2 Pac-12)

When: Thursday, 6 p.m.

Where: Pauley Pavilion

TV/radio: FS1/1150 AM