LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jaylen Clark had 18 points and 11 rebounds as No. 13 UCLA returned from a productive East Coast trip to earn an 81-54 victory over UC Davis on Wednesday.
Tyger Campbell scored 17 points and Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 14 as the Bruins (11-2) distanced themselves from a slow start to win their eighth consecutive game while closing out the nonconference portion of their schedule. UCLA improved to 8-0 at home.
Kenneth Nwuba blocked four shots and Adem Bona had two blocks as the Bruins won the rebounding battle 39-33. UCLA held UC Davis to 37.5% shooting from the field. The Aggies entered the matchup scoring 80.3 points per game.
“I think we have a chance to be really good,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said when asked to assess the team at the end of nonconference play. “Am I happy we lost two games? No. But do I think it made us a better team? Yes. None of it matters really. It’s all relative.”
Elijah Pepper scored 16 points for the Aggies (7-5), just under his 20-point average per game. Robby Beasley added 14 points and Ty Johnson had 13 points for UC Davis, which has dropped three of its last four games.
Fresh off road victories over a pair of ranked teams last week in Maryland and Kentucky, the latter on a neutral court at New York, UCLA was mistake prone early Wednesday before finding its stride.
The Bruins did not take the lead for good until 10:49 remained in the first half when Clark flashed his defensive prowess with a steal and a fast-break layup for a 13-11 advantage. It was all UCLA from there as it built its first double-digit lead at 30-19 with 2:59 remaining in the half on a jump shot by Campbell.
“I think the way UC Davis plays defense, they try to disrupt you and we have to settle into the game a little bit,” Campbell said. “As opposed to running our plays, we had to take what they gave us. If they were overplaying we had to drive and make something happen.”
Consecutive baskets by Bona, the second on a dunk with 15:23 remaining in the game, gave UCLA is first 20-point lead at 49-29. Bona finished with nine points and six rebounds.
Jaquez added eight rebounds after playing just five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. Clark delivered his second double-double of the season and third in his three seasons at UCLA.
“I felt coming in, especially after last week and with it being the holidays and everybody ready to go home and see their families and stuff like that, it would be a hard game to get up for,” Clark said. “And that’s no disrespect to UC Davis. I just figured that (would happen) and we got off to a slow start.”
UC Davis: The Aggies’ high-tempo offense was no match for UCLA, although the experience against the No. 13 team in the country should serve them well. UC Davis heads into Big West Conference play next week.
UCLA: The Bruins made easy work of their only home game in a 3 1/2-week stretch. Two true road tests await at Washington State and Washington in a return to Pac-12 play after opening the conference schedule with a pair of victories earlier this month.
UC Davis: At Hawaii on Dec. 29.
UCLA: At Washington State on Dec. 30.
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