Amari Bailey’s play could help UCLA’s Mick Cronin get first win at Oregon

Eugene has not been good to UCLA men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin.

The fourth-year coach – who has the Bruins 20-4 this season, marking their best start since the 2016-17 season – has never won at Oregon, going 0-3 in previous Pac-12 Conference games.

The three losses looked like this: 96-75 on Jan. 26, 2020; 82-74 on March 3, 2021; and 68-63 on Feb. 24, 2022.

On Saturday night, we’ll find out if Cronin can get his first victory in Eugene when the seventh-ranked Bruins (11-2 in the Pac-12) face Oregon (15-10, 9-5 Pac-12) at 7 p.m. (ESPN).

Heading into the marquee matchup, Cronin will have the soaring confidence of standout freshman Amari Bailey, who scored a career-high 24 points in the team’s 62-47 win at Oregon State on Thursday night. Jaylen Clark kicked in 16 points, too.

“Jaime (Jaquez Jr.) and Tyger (Campbell) are our core, so when Jaylen and I are blazing, you can’t double-team Jaime or tag off Tyger. You have to pick your poison,” Bailey said.

Not only will it help to have a star freshman feeling good on the road, Jaquez and Campbell each only played 28 minutes against the Beavers. That bodes well for Cronin’s cause as well.

“Big key was we were able to rest some guys (in Thursday’s game),” Cronin said. “It’s the time of the year when we practice way less, it’s about mental preparation. It’s important.”

Jaquez is averaging 32 minutes per game and Campbell is logging 31.4.

“We’ve ridden Jaime and Tyger all year, like Secretariat,” Cronin added.

Bailey’s scoring outburst looks good in the box score, but he credited the team’s defense for why scoring came so easy for him. Bailey has averaged 14.5 points in four games since returning from a left foot injury, which sidelined him for seven games.

“Getting downhill is a big part of my game, being able to create for myself and others. … When we get collective stops on defense and get out in transition you get to see more of my game,” he said.


The Bruins have compiled an all-time record of 91-39 against Oregon in a series that began in 1937. The Bruins’ last win at Oregon game in 2019 when they erased a nine-point deficit in the final minute to take down the Ducks, 87-84, in overtime.

Since the 2013-14 season, UCLA is 8-10 against Oregon overall.

Oregon is sitting in fourth place in the Pac-12, tied with Utah, after hammering USC, 78-60, on Thursday night. The Ducks are led by Will Richardson and Dante N’Faly, who average 14.1 and 13.4 points per game, respectively.

The Ducks lead the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (46.1%) and are second in points per game (71.5).

No. 7 UCLA (20-4, 11-2) AT OREGON (15-10, 9-5)

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, Ore.

TV/radio: ESPN/570 AM

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