Ninth-ranked UCLA plays a home game on Thursday for the first time since Jan. 14, looking to end a two-game losing skid when it hosts Washington in Los Angeles.
The Bruins (17-4, 8-2 Pac-12) had their 14-game winning streak snapped on Jan. 21 at Arizona, then coughed up a 12-point halftime lead en route to a 77-64 loss at Southern California on Jan. 26.
The consecutive defeats trimmed UCLA’s lead in the Pac-12 standings to a half-game over Arizona and one game over USC.
“I didn’t harbor any illusions about us going undefeated in the Pac-12,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said after the loss to the Trojans. “Welcome to big-time basketball. You’re not going to win every game.”
UCLA has, however, won every game at its home venue, Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins will look to move to 12-0 there on Thursday and maintain their pace in the quest for the program’s first regular-season conference title since 2012-13.
UCLA also will try to extend its seven-game, head-to-head winning streak against Washington. The two teams met on New Year’s Day in Seattle, a contest that the Bruins dominated, 74-49.
The Huskies (13-10, 5-7) come into Thursday’s rematch off a similar loss their last time out: Arizona routed Washington 95-72 on Saturday. The Huskies, who were coming off a 69-66 overtime win against an Arizona State team in contention for the NCAA Tournament, built an early nine-point lead against the Wildcats but could not maintain the advantage.
It marked the second consecutive week in which Washington won the Thursday game but lost the Saturday contest.
“We played really well in the first game of the (weekend sets), then struggled in the second game. I don’t know what that is,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said. “I wish I had an answer. I just know (on Saturday) we didn’t defend.”
The 95 points surrendered to Arizona were the most Washington had allowed this season, while the 49 the Huskies scored against UCLA on Jan. 1 marked their season low.
In the first meeting, Braxton Meah shot 9 of 10 against the Bruins for 20 points and was Washington’s only scorer in double figures. Keion Brooks, whose average of 17.9 points per game leads the Huskies, shot 1 of 7 for six points.
The Bruins had four double-figure scorers at Washington, a feat they replicated at USC. But the rest of the Bruins scored just 10 points vs. the Trojans.
“It’s just our ball movement and passing. We’re not taking care of the ball,” Jaime Jaquez Jr. said of UCLA’s offensive struggles.
The Bruins committed 13 turnovers at USC, about three more than their season average, and scored a season-low 52 points in the loss at Arizona.
–Field Level Media