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UCLA Men’s Basketball Holds on To Beat Stanford in Tale of 2 Halves

A hot start on both ends of the floor to open the game ultimately made the difference in the Bruins' victory against the Cardinal.
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It didn't take very long for the Bruins to get their road legs under them, but the Cardinal made sure to test them.

No. 21 UCLA men's basketball (6-2, 1-0 Pac-12) opened Thursday night's game on a 17-0 run, eventually locking up the 80-66 win over Stanford (3-5, 0-1 Pac-12) at Maples Pavilion. The Bruins never trailed in their first true road contest of the season, and even after the Cardinal battled back in the second half, the lead was never cut to less than eight.

The blue and gold were dominant enough in certain stretches to warrant  "U-C-L-A" chants, despite playing 350 miles from Westwood. That didn't change the fact that it was a road game, however, and Stanford's home crowd let UCLA hear it as the game tightened up down the stretch.

After the Bruins went by as many as 23 points, the Cardinal strung together runs of 9-0 and 15-2 after the break. Guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. wound up taking back over in the final minutes to help stave off the upset, leading UCLA with 27 points for the second game in a row.

The Bruins hit their first eight shots from the field, but their offense was only doing half the work. UCLA forced seven turnovers on Stanford's first nine possessions of the night, turning up the heat the the full-court press while also drawing charges and forcing travels.

Guards Amari Bailey and Jaylen Clark were aggressively pushing up on the ball, while Jaquez and big man Adem Bona were flying around the floor for switches.

Point guard Tyger Campbell had six assists in the opening 11 minutes alone, including an alley-oop to Bona and a no-look dish to a wide open Clark under the basket.

Bailey found Jaquez slashing for a wide-open alley-oop that would have given UCLA its biggest lead of the night, but it bounced off the side of the rim and out. That moment with 7:49 left in the first half marked the first time all game that the Bruins missed back-to-back shots, and Bailey immediately snapped the relative cold streak with a 3-pointer that made it a 23-point contest.

The Cardinal were desperate to get back into it, at one point hoisting up seven 3-pointers in a row. They did hit their last two in that stretch to cut the lead to 17, only for Jaquez to answer on a second-chance bucket the next time down.

Bailey kept up the scoring resurgence he has been on since returning from Las Vegas last week, powering home a put-back slam and a baseline dunk to hold off Stanford a while longer.

Campbell sank a corner 3 and Jaquez hit a shake-and-bake fadeaway elbow jumper in the final minute of the half, and UCLA cruised into the break up 50-29.

Midway through the contest, the Bruins had made 22 shots, while the Cardinal had taken 23, and Bailey and Jaquez were outscoring Stanford all on their own.

The start of the second half was an inverse of the first, though, with UCLA turning it over on four of its first five possessions coming out of the locker room. Stanford spun that into a 9-0 run that ran almost completely through forward Spencer Jones, who scored the first seven of those points.

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The Bruins' defense had lapsed since the opening minutes of the game, allowing the Cardinal to shoot 9-of-12 ever since going up by 23 points on Bailey's 3-pointer.

Jaquez finally ended the run with a second-chance and-1, and Singleton buried a transition corner 3 to push the lead back to 18. The Cardinal committed an offensive foul to hand it right back, and Campbell stepped back for a 3-ball to cap off a 9-0 run in response.

The defense rebounded as well, forcing three misses on four shots in addition to four turnovers in that stretch. Jones continued to cause problems, but he was the only Cardinal player to hit a field goal in the opening eight minutes of the second half.

Stanford still wasn't going away, though. UCLA went nearly four minutes without even attempting a shot, and Bona suffered through a nightmare stretch of missing an alley-oop dunk, mishandling a pass and committing a baseline foul that set Stanford up to make it a 66-55 game.

Bona went to the bench for a spell, and then watched forward Brandon Angel drain a 3 in his face right after checking back in.

What was once a 21-point game inside 12 minutes to play was suddenly an eight-point contest. The Bruins committed 13 turnovers in the second half after only coughing it up three times in the first, and the Cardinal turned those into 20 points.

Bona helped slow the bleeding by hitting both ends of a 1-and-1, ending a nine-minute cold streak where the Bruins' only points came on a Campbell floater. Jaquez, who was fresh off a 10-minute stretch of not even taking a shot, attacked the basket and used his signature pump fake to get back-to-back buckets to virtually ice the game.

The Cardinal never got it to within 12 points again, as Jaquez and Bailey got layups to fall in the final 90 seconds, shutting the door in the process.

Bailey was UCLA's second-leading scorer with 19 points, tying his career high, but he did commit seven turnovers. Even Campbell, who scored 17 points and handed out eight assists, committed an uncharacteristic four turnovers.

The Bruins' big man trio of Bona, Kenneth Nwuba and Mac Etienne combined for four points, seven rebounds, zero assists, two turnovers and nine fouls.

Jones was the only member of the Cardinal's lineup to score more than 10 points, though, and their 4-of-11 shooting in the final six minutes cost them a shot at knocking off their Pac-12 rivals.

UCLA will close out its early Pac-12 slate back at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday, with the Bruins playing host to Oregon. That game is set to tip off at 2 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

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