Coming off an impressive visit to the East Coast, No. 13 UCLA will return home to Los Angeles for its final nonconference date before diving into the thick of Pac-12 Conference play with a game against UC Davis on Wednesday afternoon.
The Bruins (10-2) extended their current winning streak to seven games on Saturday with a 63-53 defeat of then-No. 13 Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic in New York.
UCLA’s defensive clinic against the Wildcats, holding Kentucky to 32.8 percent shooting from the floor for the game, came on the heels of a dominating 87-60 victory at Maryland on Dec. 14.
“Big win for us (and a) long week,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said Saturday. “We’re looking forward to getting home.”
UCLA makes its homecoming with plenty to feel good about, too. The pair of top-25 wins away from home continued a run not just of seven straight wins, but seven consecutive games in which the Bruins held their opponents to 66 points or fewer, including a pair of Pac-12 foes.
UCLA’s margin of victory amid its current winning streak has been in double-digits in six of seven games. The lone exception was a nine-point victory over Pac-12 counterpart Oregon on Dec. 4.
Against Kentucky, preseason All-American Jaime Jaquez Jr. delivered on a stellar all-around game with 19 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and four assists.
“This was marked on my calendar,” Jaquez said in the aftermath of the Kentucky victory. “I was excited, ready to go, ready to play.”
Jaquez is up to a team-leading 17.3 points per game, and his 6.0 rebounds per game are second among all Bruins. Jaylen Clark is second to Jaquez in scoring at 15.5 points per game — making him one of five UCLA scorers averaging at least 9.7 — and leads UCLA with 6.3 rebounds per game. Clark has been a defensive force as well.
Jaquez, Clark and point guard Tyger Campbell lead UCLA in its pursuit of an eighth straight win before the holiday break and maintain the Bruins’ perfect home record, which stands at 7-0.
UC Davis (7-4) heads to Los Angeles for the middle date of a three-game road swing that includes their Big West Conference opener Dec. 29 at Hawaii. The Aggies opened the travel itinerary Saturday with a 79-68 loss at Eastern Washington.
Elijah Pepper scored 25 points in Saturday’s defeat, elevating his season average to 20.1 points per game. Pepper ranks No. 18 nationally in points per game heading into NCAA play Monday, and sets the tone for the team’s high-tempo offensive style.
The Aggies average the seventh-shortest time-of-possession in all of Division I basketball, per KenPom.com’s metrics, and play with the 11th-fastest overall adjusted tempo. The result is an offense that ranks No. 45 nationally in points per game at 80.3; UCLA ranks 46th at 80.2.
Following its 107-55 rout of Holy Names on Dec. 13, UC Davis coach Jim Les said his aim is for the Aggies to create scoring opportunities from transition out of their defense.
“When we get going on defense … we can be pretty dynamic in the open floor,” Les said, according to the Davis Enterprise.
–Field Level Media