By JACK MAGRUDER The Associated Press
TEMPE, Ariz. — Few things please UCLA basketball coach Mick Cronin more than a hard-fought road win in conference play, and the Bruins gave him plenty to smile about to begin their challenging two-game set in the desert.
Tyger Campbell matched a season high with 22 points, David Singleton had a season-high 21 and No. 5 UCLA extended its winning streak to 14 games, beating Arizona State, 74-62, on Thursday night.
Jamie Jaquez, bothered by foul trouble, scored five of his 12 points in the final 2½ minutes as the Bruins took control. UCLA closed on a 16-2 run after Frankie Collins’ 3-pointer with 6:13 left gave Arizona State a 60-58 lead.
“If you are going to win conferences, you have to win tough games against good teams,” Cronin said. “We just have great character. Tyger Campbell is just such a tough winner. I had to put the ball in his hands tonight because the pressure and their style defensively, especially tonight … it was hard to run anything. It’s hard to complete a pass.”
The Bruins (17-2, 8-0 Pac-12) overcame a six-point deficit in the final 11 minutes and opened a two-game lead in the conference standings over Arizona State (15-4, 6-2), which had won four in a row.
“I just go out and try to win and take what the defense gives me,” said Campbell, who was 7 for 11 from the field and 8 for 9 from the free-throw line. “Jaime got a couple of quick fouls, so I kind of had to look for my shot a little more.”
UCLA has the third-longest active Division I winning streak, behind No. 18 Charleston (19) and No. 24 Florida Atlantic (17). The Bruins have not lost since falling 80-75 to Baylor on Nov. 20 in the Las Vegas Main Event.
“It’s been fun flying under the radar the last couple of months,” Cronin said. “Because of what happened in Vegas, I think people gave up on us.”
Desmond Cambridge Jr. had 15 points and D.J. Horne scored all 14 of his points in the final half for ASU. Warren Washington had nine points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. The Sun Devils were off to their best conference start in 41 seasons.
UCLA shot 50% from the floor, including a 60.7% mark in the second half. Singleton had 13 points in the second half.
“I’m not saying we’re unbeatable, but we’re always going to have confidence and stay connected,” Singleton said. “Everyone is telling me to keep shooting it. The game plan was to hit the open guy, and I just happened to be the open guy tonight.”
Cambridge followed a steal and 360-degree dunk with a 3-pointer from the right baseline for a 48-42 lead with 14:09 remaining, the biggest lead for either team to that point.
There were 14 lead changes, and neither team led by more than six until late.
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“This tells us any given night we can lace them up and play with anybody,” Horne said. “It was a different flow in the second half. I think they made some defensive adjustments.”
ASU could have found its way into the next AP Top 25 had it won. The Sun Devils received the 28th-most votes in the most recent poll. No. 22 Providence, No. 23 Rutgers and No. 25 Arkansas already have lost this week.
Although there is not much room to climb, UCLA strengthened its position in the Top 25 with the late comeback win entering its game at Arizona on Saturday. No. 6 Gonzaga, No. 7 Texas and No. 8 Xavier have lost this week.
UCLA: The Bruins survived a speed bump in the most challenging portion of their Pac-12 schedule. They conclude a three-game trip with games at No. 11 Arizona and USC before returning home on Feb. 2 against Washington. … Starting guard Amari Bailey missed his sixth consecutive game but is nearing a return, Cronin said, which will further deepen the roster.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils were that close to their fourth victory over a top-five team in Bobby Hurley’s eight seasons, but the close should bolster their NCAA resume.
UCLA plays at No. 11 Arizona on Saturday at 11 a.m. PT.
Arizona State hosts USC on Saturday at 7 p.m. PT.
WHAT A GAME
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) January 20, 2023