Sat, 23 Jan 2021

UCLA in search of energy vs. Long Beach State

Field Level Media
30 Nov 2020, 10:40 GMT+10

A disappointing loss was followed by a fortunate escape and now No. 22 UCLA will look to find its stride when it hosts Long Beach State on Monday night.

The Bruins (1-1) played their first two games in San Diego and were outclassed 73-58 by San Diego State in their opener on Wednesday before dispatching Pepperdine, 107-98, in triple-overtime on Friday.

Long Beach State is opening its season against UCLA. The Beach are 1-17 all-time against UCLA, with the lone victory coming on Nov. 29, 2009 on a neutral floor in Anaheim, Calif.

The big task for Bruins second-year coach Mick Cronin is getting his players fresh prior to the game against the Beach.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. played all 55 minutes against Pepperdine, Tyger Campbell was on the court for 52 minutes and Chris Smith played 51. Junior guard David Singleton received 43 minutes of playing time off the bench.

"Three overtimes is definitely draining," Smith said after recording 26 points and 12 rebounds for his fourth career double-double. "The couple times I went out, one time was because of foul trouble and the other time coach told me as soon as I came out, to tell him when I was ready.

"Fifty minutes was what it took to get a win, so if I have to play 50 minutes every single night, I'm going to do it as long as we come out with the win."

Smith is averaging a team-best 18 points per game. Jaquez is averaging 16.5 points and a team-leading 8.5 rebounds, while Campbell is contributing 15.5 points and a team-best 5.5 assists per game.

The Bruins hope to have more manpower against Long Beach State. Jalen Hill (knee) is slated to make his season debut while Johnny Juzang (foot), a transfer from Kentucky, has an outside chance of playing for the first time.

Long Beach State, which went 11-21 last season, will possess a short-handed roster due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Colin Slater (10.2 scoring average in 2019-20) and Drew Cobb (5.0) both opted out of the season, while sophomore guard Max De Geest (3.4) has remained in his native New Zealand.

The top two returners for the Beach are junior guards Chance Hunter (13.9 points) and Michael Carter III (12.4).

Long Beach State added two Division I transfers in guard Isaiah Washington and forward Raymond Hawkins III. Washington played two seasons at Minnesota before moving to Iona for the 2019-20 season, while Hawkins played one season at Alabama.

The expectation is that Washington, who averaged 11.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last season, will make a solid impact.

"We felt we needed an 'X' factor who could come in, move the needle, and help a team turn the tables and have a successful season," Beach coach Dan Monson said. "We think Isaiah Washington is that player. He has the ability to create his own shot, make players around him better, and help push our pace back where we like it."

Long Beach State put a big scare into the Bruins in last season's opener and held a six-point lead with just over five minutes remaining. But UCLA erupted with a 19-9 finishing kick to post a 69-65 triumph in Cronin's school debut and drop the Beach to 0-14 all-time at Pauley Pavilion.

--Field Level Media

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