No. 7 UCLA’s 11-game win streak on the line against Utah

Despite the 60-58 victory over rival USC last Thursday, UCLA coach Mick Cronin was irritable in the postgame press conference. He was disappointed in the way the Bruins’ 18-point halftime lead dissipated. He was classy in his credit to the Trojans, but was damning of his own team for bad shot selection, lackluster defense, and maybe most irritating, the way UCLA was out-muscled in the painted area 20-4 in the second half alone.

Since then, the fumes from Cronin’s disappointment have dissipated. He laughed and shared a perspective with reporters Wednesday morning that suggests a fair reality: no team is perfect.

“I was upset, but over time stuff like that happens. … You’re not always going to play well, so you have to learn from it,” Cronin said. “What caused our offense to stall out in the second half, what caused us to give up 20 points in the paint and how do we rectify it? And then you move on, and you practice and then you get focused on Utah.”

Seventh-ranked UCLA will put its 11-game winning streak on the line when it hosts Utah (12-5, 4-1 Pac-12 Conference) at 8 p.m., Thursday at Pauley Pavilion to kick off a three-game homestand.

Jaylen Clark, No. 10 UCLA hold off USC

UCLA (14-2, 5-0) remains the only unbeaten team in the Pac-12 play this year and will look to beat Utah for a sixth straight time. In the only meeting last season, the Bruins won 63-58 in Utah thanks to Johnny Juzang’s 28 points.

The Bruins will have to play against Utah and Colorado without freshman guard Amari Bailey, who’s missed the last three games with an ankle injury.

“I don’t think he’ll play this week,” Cronin said. “(He’s) making a lot of progress. He has not practiced yet. He’s shooting but not practicing.”

Senior David Singleton has started for Bailey in those three absences. He’s filled the void splendidly, averaging 13.3 points per game in 33.6 minutes per game, which is up from his season average off the bench – 10.7 points and 27.6 minutes.

𝐀 𝐟𝐞𝐰 𝐨𝐟 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐝𝐚𝐲’𝐬 𝐡𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐥𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬. 🏀🎞

Roll back that tape from the Bruins’ 60-58 win against USC.

🎥 footage courtesy of ESPN#GoBruins | #BeatSC

— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) January 6, 2023

Bailey being out forces Cronin to tinker with his rotation, but in the last three games, that doesn’t necessarily mean the minutes are getting thrown around more. Against USC, Dylan Andrews played 12 minutes while Will McClendon and Kenneth Nwuba each played just seven minutes. Mac Etienne and Abramo Canka did not play.

“Yeah, Will, Abramo, Dylan. Getting them minutes, especially Will because obviously he’s coming back. He’s still nowhere near 100% and sometimes it takes a guy a year after an ACL (injury),” Cronin said. “Abramo’s probably the least minutes of those guys, but one man’s trials are always another man’s opportunity in sports.”


UCLA freshman Adem Bona has earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honors for the second consecutive week. Cronin has seen progress in Bona’s rebounding, but wants more.

“It’s time to start getting 10 rebounds a game, if he can stay out of foul trouble,” Cronin said. “It’s going to have to happen for us to be an elite team. He’s got to be an elite rebounder, and for his career.”


Congrats to freshman Adem Bona on being named the @Pac12 Freshman of the Week for the second consecutive week.


— UCLA Men’s Basketball (@UCLAMBB) January 9, 2023

The 6-foot-10 forward from Ebonyi, Nigeria, totaled a team-leading 10 rebounds, along with eight points and two blocked shots, in the win over USC. He’s averaging 8.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 15 games for UCLA this season.

“To me, he’s one of the best big men in the country,” senior Tyger Campbell said.

Bona and teammate Amari Bailey have each won the award twice this season. Fellow freshman Dylan Andrews has also earned the award.

Utah (12-5, 4-1) at No. 7 UCLA (14-2, 5-0)

When: Thursday, 8 p.m.

Where: Los Angeles, Pauley Pavilion

TV/radio: Pac-12 Network/AM 570

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