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UCLA coach Mick Cronin’s pregame pep talk is layered differently these days.
Here’s what it sounded like for Thursday night’s home opener against Seattle in the team’s pregame walk-through.
“I shuffled (the team) together and said, ‘Hey, Seattle has tested negative, the game is on,’ ‘Cronin said Friday night on AM 570’s Petros & Money radio show. should tell you that the game is on because the adversary has tested negative for a viral pandemic. It’s the world we’re in. ”
The Bruins (2-1) await Cronin’s starting signal on Sunday for the team’s Pac-12 opener against Cal (2-2) in Pauley Pavilion. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 pm on Pac-12 Network. Sunday’s game marks the earliest point ever at which the Bruins have played a conference game.
Coincidentally, the first UCLA to open a conference game was against Cal on December 21, 1988, in the sixth game of the season.
UCLA won its only matchup 50-40 against Cal last year and has a winning streak of six games over the Golden Bears, including eight in a row at home. The last time Cal defeated UCLA at Pauley Pavilion was 2010.
Six Bruins average double digits in points over three games, led by Tyger Campbell (16.0), Jaime Jaquez Jr. (14.0) and Chris Smith (14.0). Jules Bernard brings in 13.0 points per game, followed by the great men Cody Riley (11.7) and Jalen Hill (11.0).
UCLA has experienced all three levels of performance in three games. Against San Diego State in a loss of 73-58 it was disappointing. In a 107-98 triple win over Pepperdine, it was mediocre. In Thursday’s 78-52 defeat of Seattle, the Bruins were good considering the opponent.
If there’s one thing true about the uncertainty of the 2020-21 NCAA season, it’s that every game counts – especially conference play.
“The faster we can address reality, the faster we can address our weaknesses,” Cronin said.
Cal’s reconnaissance report
Cal’s biggest scoring threat is guard Matt Bradley, who averages 19.5 points in four games. Scoring the opposition from the perimeter has been a problem for UCLA this season. San Diego State guards Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel scored 15 each and Pepperdine’s Colbey Ross poured 33 in.
Bradley’s scoring output can also be increased slightly due to the team’s offensive limitations. No other Cal player gets the double digit average and Bradley shoots only 41%. He has taken nearly twice as many shots on shot attempts as the team’s second leader.
Cal head coach Mark Fox is in his second season after 14-18 overall and 7-11 in conference play, a big improvement after the program’s 8-21 campaign, with just three conference wins two seasons ago.
Jalen Hill returned on Thursday-evening to play with an 11-point, 10-rebound performance after missing the first two games of the season with tendonitis in the right knee. He is expected to play on Sunday.
Kentucky’s transfer Johnny Juzang (foot) has yet to make his UCLA debut and has been listed as “ week-to-week ” by UCLA medical staff. He was in the warm-up, shooting, dribbling, and moving around for Thursday night’s game against Seattle, but didn’t participate publicly in a full-speed move.
Juzang’s return to the game is questionable.
UCLA’s Cancellation Against Long Beach
Cronin spoke about Monday’s cancellation with Long Beach State on the Petros & Money show, explaining that teams like Seattle will be tested by UCLA the morning of the game.
Long Beach State tested itself on game day, but, according to Cronin, a problem arose with the results, sparking a discussion among UCLA’s athletic administration about whether or not to play the game.
“That’s a match that can be easily rescheduled,” said Cronin. ‘Taking risks has no advantages. We can play Long Beach in 10 days. ”