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Most times the home crowd erupts in pure jubilation with only a few seconds left in the game, it suggests a buzzer-beater win.

That was far from the case Thursday night.

No. 7 UCLA men's basketball (15-2, 7-1 Pac-12) completely handled Cal (9-11, 2-7) at Pauley Pavilion, extending its winning streak to five games with an 81-57 victory. It was the Bruins' 10th-straight win against the Golden Bears, and it was hardly ever close after the opening minutes, but that didn't stop the crowd from holding their breath as the clock approached zeroes.

The fans had been waiting to see walk-on guard Russell Stong check in at the scorer's table for a while, getting the now-signature "We Want Russell" chant going earlier than usual, and coach Mick Cronin finally gave the people what they wanted with 1:42 to play. UCLA was up by 23 when Stong checked in, with the senior looking to score his first points of the season and first since Dec. 1, 2019.

Stong wound up draining a 3-pointer from the right wing with 26 seconds to go, putting smiles on his teammates faces as the buzzer sounded and they jogged back to the locker room mobbing one of the hearts of the bench.

One of the Bruins' lesser-known names ended up being the man of the hour in the final moments, and they needed that kind of stepping up from the bench with their leading scorer out.

March Madness hero and national superstar Johnny Juzang was out due to COVID-19 protocols, and coach Mick Cronin put guard David Singleton in the starting lineup for the first time in 11 months in response. After the Golden Bears won the opening tip, Singleton stole the ball and drained a 3-pointer on the other end.

Cal hit four of its first five shots, even taking an 11-9 lead off back-to-back 3s – the second of which was banked in from the corner by guard Jalen Celestine. UCLA got back-to-back triples from guard Jules Bernard, though, and guard Tyger Campbell and guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. each got steals and fast break scores to make it a 10-0 run.

After the Golden Bears got a few buckets to go in response, the Bruins turned on the jets and pulled ahead with a 19-5 run full of 3-pointers, reverse layups, deep midrange jumpers and fast break dunks. Cal, meanwhile, missed six of its next seven shots after starting 7-of-11.

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UCLA had seven steals in the first half, four of which came from Jaquez alone, and they converted nine forced turnovers into 10 points.

The Bruins' defense started to give way in the final two minutes of the opening frame, with the Golden Bears getting a 3 ball, a layup and a baseline slam on consecutive possessions to round out the half. UCLA answered the 7-0 run with a catch-and-shoot 3 off an inbound by guard/forward Peyton Watson just before the buzzer, and they went into the break up 43-29.

The status quo remained the same early in the second, with Cal starting 4-of-7 from the field but not making up any ground as Riley continued to sink deep 2 after deep 2, Singleton stayed hot coming off screens and Bernard made the most of his trips to the line.

UCLA continued to force turnovers and pick up fast break points as they kept Cal at a distance, with the standout highlight coming from guard/forward Kyman on his lob to Watson.

Watson used his elite length to pick up an acrobatic finish on that play, and his long arms also helped him poke a rebound downcourt to kickstart a fast break and corral several passes in the post that he swing back out for scores. The Bruins got their next six points from the free throw line, and their lead never shrunk past 18 for the rest of the night.

Kyman was hitting stepback jumpers, Watson was getting scoop layups to fall and center Myles Johnson was blocking shots and poking balls loose. While the trio of Jaquez, Bernard and Riley chipped in a combined 41 points, Watson, Johnson and Kyman led the team with +21, +21 and +17 plus-minuses. 

Watson scored his most points of the conference season with 12 – also added six boards – and Kyman went for a season-high 10 points of his own.

Cal entered Thursday 7-1 when their big three of seniors – forward Andre Kelly, forward Grant Anticevich and guard Jordan Shepherd – each scored in double-figures and 2-9 when they did not. The trio came far from reaching that level of consistent offensive output against the Bruins, combining for 15 points on 7-of-21 shooting while Anticevich was scoreless on the night.

UCLA's next game is set for Saturday, with a showdown against Stanford tipping off at 6:30 p.m.

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