No. 7 UCLA aims to protect Pac-12 lead at Oregon State


Jaime Jaquez Jr. is doing yeoman work on the boards for No. 7 UCLA.

The senior forward strives to record his sixth double-digit rebounding outing in eight games when the Bruins face Oregon State on Thursday night in Pac-12 play at Corvallis, Ore.

Jaquez collected a career-best 15 rebounds to go with 24 points as the first-place Bruins (19-4, 10-2 Pac-12) walloped Washington State 76-52 on Saturday.

It was the latest strong effort for Jaquez, who is averaging 10.7 rebounds during the seven-game stretch. He also topped 20 points twice during the span and owns team-best averages of 16.3 points and 7.7 boards.

“It’s just being in the right position,” Jaquez said after the performance against Washington State. “I’ve been understanding that I’ve got to get to the weak side. I was just trying to be in the right spot. … I’ve just been trying to put an emphasis on getting to each ball I can.”

Jaquez ranks second on the Bruins in assists (57), steals (38) and blocked shots (18), and his all-around game has always been appreciated by UCLA coach Mick Cronin.

Lately, Cronin has turned into a salesman regarding his squad’s top player. NBA scouts project Jaquez as a middle- to late-second-round draft choice, and Cronin views that as far too low.

“He’s got great talent,” Cronin said. “I told an NBA guy (Friday), if you want to win games, put him on your team. There’s plenty of guys like him in the NBA. He’s not going to be your best player, but your coach and teammates are going to love him because he can do whatever you need him to do.

“Make shots, get a tough rebound, be a team guy, display great toughness. You just plug him in and play if you want to win. Or you can draft guys with potential and put them in the G League, but for a team that wants to win, he’s going to be an asset.”

Jaquez averaged 19.5 points and 12.5 rebounds last week in home wins over Washington and Washington State that followed a two-game slide.

UCLA has won 10 of its past 14 meetings with Oregon State. Thursday is the lone time the teams will meet in the 2022-23 regular season.

The Beavers have lost nine of their past 11 games overall, including setbacks against Arizona State and Arizona last week.

An 84-52 loss to Arizona on Saturday was ugly, with the 32-point margin representing the Beavers’ largest setback of the season.

“That was a woodshed job,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “We came out of the gate and executed our plan, then the floodgates opened.”

The Beavers were down by nine before the Wildcats finished the first half with a 19-2 burst to hold a 47-21 halftime lead.

Arizona eventually led by as many as 37 points before closing it out.

“They’re a great team, obviously well-coached, but I think our youth showed itself a little bit,” Tinkle said. “We got knocked on our heels.”

Jordan Pope scored 11 points to lead the Beavers. The freshman has scored in double digits in 17 of 24 games and leads the team with a 12.6 scoring average. He also has knocked down a team-best 46 3-pointers.

Glenn Taylor Jr. had just five points vs. the Wildcats after scoring only seven against Arizona State. He averages 11 points per game.

–Field Level Media

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