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No. 2 UCLA Prepares for Good Sam Empire Classic

Nov 20, 2021
Jules Bernard, Tyger Campbell, Johnny Juzang, Jaylen Clark and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (photo by Scott Chandler)

LOS ANGELES – No. 2-ranked UCLA (4-0) will take on Bellarmine (0-4) and No. 1-ranked Gonzaga (4-0) in the Good Sam Empire Classic at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Monday and Tuesday. The Bruins' contest against the Bellarmine Knights on Monday evening will be broadcast on ESPN+, the network's nationwide streaming platform. Game time on Monday is set for 5 p.m. (PT).
UCLA's contest against Gonzaga on Tuesday night will be nationally televised on ESPN at 7 p.m. This will mark the seventh all-time meeting on the hardwood between the Bruins and Gonzaga.
Venue: T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas)
Game Time: 5 p.m. (PT)
Television: ESPN+
TV Talent: Dave O'Brien (play-by-play), Sean Farnham (analyst)
Radio Broadcast (UCLA Sports Network): AM 570
Radio Talent: Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Tracy Murray (analyst)
SIRIUS/XM Radio Channels: Ch. 137/Ch. 197
SIRIUS Internet Channel: Ch. 959
- The Bruins have opened with a 4-0 record, heading into Monday evening's contest against Bellarmine in Las Vegas.
- UCLA has shot 49.6% from the field, through four games, and 42.4% from the beyond the 3-point arc (42-of-99).
- Junior guard Johnny Juzang has averaged a team-best 21.5 points per game (also averaging 4.5 rebounds per contest).
- UCLA went 22-10 last season, including a 13-6 mark in Pac-12 play (finishing in fourth place in the league).
- Head coach Mick Cronin has gone 45-22 at UCLA (currently in his third season as UCLA's head coach).
- Eleven of UCLA's 15 players were either born and raised in Southern California or attended high school in the area.
- For the second consecutive season, the Bruins were selected No. 1 in the preseason Pac-12 media poll.
- The Bruins went 5-1 in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, earning the program's 19th all-time appearance in the Final Four.
The Bruins will face Bellarmine on Monday evening (5:00 p.m., PT) in the first of their two games in the Good Sam Empire Classic, played at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. UCLA will take on No. 1-ranked Gonzaga on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. (PT). Monday's game will mark the first-ever contest on the basketball court between UCLA and Bellarmine. Bruins' head coach Mick Cronin and Bellarmine head coach Scott Davenport both served on the Louisville men's basketball coaching staff during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons (Coach Cronin was Rick Pitino's associate head coach during those seasons).
UCLA registered four consecutive wins to open the season, with all four contests taking place in Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescsom. Most recently, five UCLA players scored in double figures as the Bruins cruised past North Florida, 98-63, last Wednesday evening (Nov. 17). Tyger Campbell was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range in that win, finishing the game with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. As a team, the Bruins made 9 of 17 attempts from 3-point distance (52.9%) and recorded a season-best 24 offensive rebounds (UCLA had 54 total rebounds against North Florida).
OFFENSIVE BOARDS: UCLA finished Wednesday night's win with 24 offensive rebounds, the Bruins' highest single-game total since record 25 offensive boards in a home loss to USC on Jan. 19, 2008.
SHOT MAKERS: The Bruins made 40 of 78 shots against Long Beach State on Monday, Nov. 15, the team's most made field goals in one game since connecting on 40 of 74 attempts in the season opener against Purdue Fort Wayne on Nov. 6, 2018. Johnny Juzang led the Bruins in that category on Monday, sinking 11 of 21 shots versus Long Beach State.
NO. 1 vs. NO. 2
Tuesday night's contest between UCLA and Gonzaga will pit the nation's top-two-ranked teams against each other (No. 2 UCLA, vs. No 1 Gonzaga). The Bruins last faced the nation's No. 1-ranked team in the Final Four last season, when No. 1-ranked Gonzaga defeated UCLA, 93-90, in overtime. UCLA has not faced the nation's No. 1-ranked team during the regular season since Dec. 3, 2016. The Bruins (ranked No. 11 at the time) defeated No. 1-ranked Kentucky at Rupp Arena, 97-92, before a nationally-televised audience in Lexington, Ky.
The Bruins recorded an 86-77 overtime victory over No. 4 Villanova on Friday, Nov. 12. Jules Bernard scored a game-tying basket on a driving bank shot with 25 seconds to play (tying the game, 67-67). Trailing 69-67 early in overtime, the Bruins used a 7-0 scoring run to secure a 74-69 cushion and extended their margin to six points (80-74) on a pair of free throws from Jaime Jaquez Jr. with 33 seconds to play. Johnny Juzang finished with 25 points and Jaquez Jr. tallied 21 points.
TOP-FIVE OPPONENT: UCLA landed its first win over a "top-five" ranked opponent since last season's Elite Eight, when the Bruins edged No. 4-ranked Michigan, 51-49, in Indianapolis (March 30, 2021). The Bruins had not faced a "top-five" ranked team in Pauley Pavilion since recording an 82-79 win over No. 5-ranked Oregon on Feb. 9, 2017.
RECENT TRENDS: The Bruins have registered a 7-4 record against "top-five" ranked competition (AP poll ranking) since the start of the 2015-16 season. Those victories include a pair of wins over No. 1-ranked Kentucky (Dec. 2015, Dec. 2016), back-to-back wins in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight last March and the most recent win against Villanova.
Tyger Campbell, a redshirt junior guard, has averaged 13.0 points and a team-leading 4.8 assists in four games. He has made 11 of 18 attempts from 3-point range and 9 of 10 free throw attempts. Campbell was honored as a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last year. He become the first UCLA player since Darren Collison (2006-09) to serve as the team's primary point guard for three consecutive seasons. From 2011-12 through 2018-19, UCLA had seven different players who serves as the team's "starting" point guard. Campbell played (and started) all 63 games for UCLA the past two seasons.
Listed as a preseason All-America selection by nearly every national media outlet, Johnny Juzang averaged a team-leading 16.0 points in 27 games last season. Juzang, who excelled at nearby Harvard-Westlake School, was one of five players to earn All-NCAA Tournament Team acclaim in 2021, having averaged 22.8 points in six NCAA Tournament contests. He shot 50.9 percent in the NCAA Tournament (54-for-106). Juzang secured second-team All-Pac-12 honors last season and finished the year ranked No. 3 among all Pac-12 players in free throw percentage (87.7%, 56-for-65).
Johnny Juzang scored 19 points in the Bruins' season opener (Nov. 9, vs. CSU Bakersfield). He added a team-high 25 points against Villanova, and registered 25 points against Long Beach State (Nov. 15). Each of those single-game point totals were higher than any other game in Pauley Pavilion for Juzang, last season. His previous single-game high (scoring) in Pauley Pavilion was 17 points versus Washington State on Jan. 14, 2021.
Selected a second-team All-Pac-12 player in 2020-21, Jaime Jaquez Jr. (along with Tyger Campbell & Johnny Juzang) were picked as "first-team" preseason All-Pac-12 selections in Oct. 2021. Jaquez Jr., a 6-foot-7 guard/forward, has averaged 18.0 points and a team-leading 7.5 rebounds through UCLA's first four contests. Last season, he averaged 12.3 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds per game. He was one of five players to earn Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honors and led the Bruins with 39 steals and 22 blocks (tied, with Cody Riley). Jaquez Jr. scored in double figures in 21 of UCLA's 32 games.
Senior guard Jules Bernard has averaged 18.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in UCLA's first four games. Bernard totaled 22 points and a career-high seven assists in the team's 100-79 win against Long Beach State last Monday (Nov. 15) He sank the game-tying basket with 25 seconds to play in the second half against No. 4 Villanova on Friday, Nov. 12 (tied the game, 67-67). Bernard has made 10 of 20 attempts from 3-point range. He has played in a team-best 99 career contests, including all 32 games (28 starts) last season. He has registered career averages of 8.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.
UCLA added three players to the roster in the summer – senior Myles Johnson (6-10, center) and freshmen Will McClendon (6-2, guard) and Peyton Watson (6-8, guard/forward). Johnson earned his degree in electrical and computer engineering from Rutgers University and has enrolled as a graduate student (engineering) at UCLA. McClendon was a standout athlete at Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas) and will be sidelined this season with a torn ACL (left knee). Watson excelled the past four years at Long Beach Poly High School (Long Beach, Calif.) and was named a McDonald's All-American.
The Bruins opened the 2021-22 season ranked No. 2 in the two major national polls (AP, Coaches). This marks the Bruins' highest preseason ranking since being tabbed No. 2, nationally, prior to the 2007-08 season. UCLA was last ranked as high as No. 2 during in Dec. 2016 (for four consecutive weeks) after wins at Kentucky and at home against Michigan. The Bruins have not been ranked No. 1 in either poll during the season since the 2006-07 campaign. Last season, UCLA opened the year ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and No. 21 in the Coaches Poll.
Juniors Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Johnny Juzang were named to the 50-person watch list for the 2022 John R. Wooden Award in early November by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. All three players were selected as preseason first-team All-Pac-12 honorees in October (as announced at Pac-12 Media Day). UCLA has seen two of its players previously win the Wooden Award – Ed O'Bannon as a senior in 1994-95 and Marques Johnson as a senior in 1976-77.
Last season, Johnny Juzang scored a career-high 32 points in a 64-61 win at Washington (Feb. 13). Juzang's 32-point effort at Washington marked the most points in a game by any UCLA player since Kris Wilkes had 34 points as a sophomore against Arizona (Jan. 26, 2019, in Pauley Pavilion). Aaron Holiday is UCLA's most recent player to have scored 30 points (or more) in multiple games in one season (2017-18, with four games of 30+ points).
50 PERCENT: Johnny Juzang (32 points, Feb. 13, 2021, at Washington) became UCLA's first player to have accounted for at least half his team's points in a game since Reggie Miller on Dec. 19, 1986. Miller had 38 of 73 points (52.1%) in an 81-73 loss at Washington State. Juzang tallied half the Bruins' points (32 of 64) in last season's win at Washington.
POSTSEASON: Juzang scored 28 of UCLA's 51 points (54.9%) in the Bruins' 51-49 "Elite Eight" win last season against Michigan (March 30, 2021). That marked the first time any UCLA player had accounted for at least half of his team's total points in the NCAA Tournament since Bill Walton's 44-point effort in UCLA's 87-66 win against Memphis in the 1973 NCAA Championship. Walton made 21 of 22 shots from the field in that contest, totaling 44 points and 13 rebounds.
Under third-year head coach Mick Cronin, the Bruins have gone 21-7 in games decided by five points or fewer (includes all overtime games, regardless of score margin). In 2019-20, the Bruins went 7-3 in those contests. In 2020-21, UCLA had a 12-4 record. Through Coach Cronin's final three seasons at Cincinnati (2016-17 through 2018-19), his teams went 18-7 in those situations. From 2016-17 through the 2020-21 season, Coach Cronin's teams went 39-14 in such contests.
Last season, the Bruins went 15-3 when limiting the opposition to 70 or fewer points. In 2019-20, UCLA went 18-1 in such situations. Through his final three seasons as Cincinnati's head coach (2016-17 through 2018-19), his teams posted a 79-10 record when holding the opposition to 70 or fewer points. Since the start of the 2016-17 season, his teams have gone 111-14 when limiting the opponent to 70 or fewer points (through 166 games).