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The Bruins' defense made a much-needed return against the Runnin' Rebels in Las Vegas.

No. 2 UCLA men's basketball (6-1) bounced back from a loss earlier in the week to beat UNLV (4-3) 73-51 on the road Saturday afternoon. The 51 points scored by the Rebels were the fewest the Bruins had allowed all season and third-fewest in a regular season game under coach Mick Cronin.

UNLV shot 30.4% from the field – the third-lowest by a UCLA opponent in the regular season since Cronin arrived – 22.2% from long range and 68.8% from the free throw line.

"I told my guys it was good to have my team tonight," Cronin said. "It's been since last year that we've played that type of defense."

That was coming off a game against Gonzaga on Tuesday in which the Bruins allowed a season-high 83 points and lost for the first time this fall, as the Bulldogs shot 56.0% from the field.

The turnaround on defense coincided with a hot start by the offense, and UCLA finished the contest shooting 47.1% from the field and from deep on the other end of the floor.

After allowing the first basket of the game, the Bruins went on a 14-0 run, with guard Jules Bernard leading the way with nine of those points. The Rebels also missed seven consecutive shots in that stretch, with Cronin's defense as active and fundamentally sound on its rotations as it has been in weeks.

UNLV responded with a 9-2 run to get its home crowd back into it, as UCLA missed three shots and turned it over three times to cough away its early commanding lead.

"Teams play with pride at home, man," Cronin said. "They don't just fold the tent – they're gonna come after you."

A bobbled pass from guard Tyger Campbell to center Myles Johnson beneath the basket led to more fast break points for the Rebels, and the lead was cut to three points at 22-19.

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The Bruins got some much-needed breathing room when Campbell drilled a 3-pointer, guard Johnny Juzang finished on the fast break off an over-the-shoulder outlet pass by Bernard and guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. hit the hook shot in the low post.

That 7-0 run put UCLA back up by double digits, and Juzang made it 10-0 with a deep contested 3 that brought the score to 34-20. Another 3-pointer by guard David Singleton looked like it was going to give the Bruins some even more momentum heading into halftime, until Jaquez got elbowed in the face by Johnson and had to take an early trip back to the locker room after bleeding on the floor for a bit.

Jaquez returned to the game early in the second half with a bandage on his left eyebrow, but he only managed to get up one shot in that first s, and it was an air ball. Without Jaquez contributing the 16.2 points and 7.3 rebounds he was averaging entering Saturday, UCLA let UNLV back into it yet again and only led by nine points six minutes into the second half.

The wing eventually started working down low as a distributor, though, dumping one off to guard Jaylen Clark for a layup, then he swung it around a few possessions later to Bernard for another 3-pointer. Then it was Jaquez himself who got three the old fashioned way, banking in an and-1 to put UCLA up 58-37.

While the Bruins were getting 3s in bunches, the Rebels couldn't get anything to fall. UNLV missed eight field goals in a row while UCLA was getting back in a rhythm, seven of which were attempted from beyond the arc.

Bernard, Campbell and Juzang all hit multiple 3-pointers, and it was Bernard and Jaquez doing most of the shot creation for their teammates. Jaquez led the way with five assists and Bernard wasn't far behind at four, while Campbell posted zero assists for the first time in his collegiate career, excluding a game he left with an injury early against Oregon on Jan. 26, 2020. Campbell had one assist against Gonzaga on Tuesday.

UCLA is now 7-0 all-time against UNLV, with two of those wins coming under Cronin.

"Learning to win on the road, understanding what road basketball's all about – toughness and defense," Cronin said. "Teams don't just give you wins, you're not gonna jump shoot your way to victory on the road."

Bernard scored a team-best 18 points, with Campbell trailing closely behind with 15 and Juzang and Jaquez each chipping in 12. Juzang and guard/forward Peyton Watson tied for the most rebounds in the team with nine each, while Johnson finished with seven.

UCLA will return home to start Pac-12 play against Colorado on Wednesday, with that game set to tip off at 6:30 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion. 

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