UCLA lost more than a game Saturday.
In suffering a 66-48 defeat to rival USC, the Bruins also relinquished sole possession of first place in the Pacific-12 Conference and their spot in the Top 25.
The Bruins (13-4, 9-2 Pac-12) will look to get back on track when they travel to Pullman, Wash., to face Washington State on Thursday night.
“If we get a chance to get to the (NCAA) tournament, we have to practice not hanging our head and not looking at the scoreboard … and playing every play like it matters,” Bruins coach Mick Cronin said.
The Bruins played without forwards Cody Riley (right ankle injury) and Jalen Hill (personal reasons), who combine for roughly 17 points and 12 rebounds per game. Cronin said Riley is “day-to-day” and Hill won’t play Thursday.
Mac Etienne, a 19-year-old who enrolled at UCLA for the winter quarter after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out his prep season in New Hampshire, made his Bruins debut and had eight points on 4-for-5 shooting with five rebounds and two blocked shots in 27 minutes.
“He’s not even a freshman. I don’t even know what you call a guy in this situation,” Cronin said. “He’s playing during his senior year of high school.”
Etienne went up against USC’s 7-foot Evan Mobley, who is considered a potential No. 1 overall pick in the next NBA draft.
“I feel like it wasn’t too exciting for me,” Etienne said. “I know what I’m capable of, I know that when I step on the court, I can be a really good player.”
This will be UCLA’s second meeting against the Cougars (11-8, 4-8) this season. The Bruins won 91-61 on Jan. 14 at home as Johnny Juzang led a balanced attack with 17 points.
Washington State, which has played seven of its past 10 games on the road, is coming off a 68-66 loss at Oregon State on Saturday.
Ryan Rapp scored 15 points and DJ Rodman had 14 for the Cougars, both career highs, but guard Isaac Bonton, the conference’s second-leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, was limited to seven points on 2-for-14 shooting.
“I have to be better … I’m going to be better. This one’s on me,” Bonton tweeted.
Bonton scored 23 points in the first meeting against UCLA, the only Cougars player to reach double digits in that game.
The Cougars could be without starting center Dishon Jackson, who left the Oregon State game with 16:43 remaining and didn’t return with a left ankle injury.
The Bruins lead the all-time series between the schools 110-18.
–Field Level Media