LOS ANGELES (AP)Jaylen Clark scored 24 points and No. 19 UCLA opened the second half with a 17-0 run on its way to an 87-64 rout of Denver on Saturday for the Bruins’ fifth straight victory.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. added 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting for the Bruins (8-2), who last week opened Pac-12 play with a pair of wins. Clark’s points were one off his career high.
Clark dunked twice off his own steals to highlight the big run that put the game away. The Bruins stretched their nine-point halftime lead to a 61-35 advantage. Jaquez added six points in the spurt.
”The defense had changed. We started hawking the point guard, we knew he was the head of the snake,” freshman Dylan Andrews said. ”We started speeding them up and turning the ball over. It felt great.”
Denver (8-3) has six players who average double figures, but they didn’t put up those numbers Saturday. Touko Tainamo had 16 points and seven rebounds as one of two starters in foul trouble. Justin Mullins added 14 points.
Denver twice got within four points in the first half. Tyger Campbell (3 of 10) and freshman Amari Bailey (2 of 9) struggled with their shooting. Campbell and Bailey also were a combined 0 for 8 from 3-point range.
”It happens, you miss shots. I was really unhappy with our energy when the shots don’t go in,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. ”We got to rebound the ball. The leaders, particularly our guards, can’t look like they lost their dog.”
Clark had a big hand in a 10-0 run later in the half. He combined with freshman Adem Bona to score all the points and extend UCLA’s lead to 74-42. Clark opened with a 3-pointer before Bona’s 3-point play. Clark then stole the ball and scored on a layup in which he got fouled. He didn’t make the free throw, but Bona finished off the run with a basket.
UCLA’s defense forced the Pioneers into a season-worst 24 turnovers. The Bruins scored 31 points off Denver’s miscues and dominated the paint, 56-30.
Andrews saw his most minutes of the season and finished with a season-high 11 points and six assists.
REMEMBERING JALEN HILL
The Bruins remembered former player Jalen Hill in an emotional pre-game ceremony.
Hill was 22 when he died last summer after going missing in Costa Rica. He started 40 of 77 games over three years until leaving last season for personal reasons.
Jaquez asked Hill after he left the team if he could wear Hill’s No. 24 and his former teammate agreed.
”We miss him dearly,” Jaquez said.
Hill’s parents and sister stood next to his framed jersey and a floral wreath during a moment of silence. After a tribute video played, the team gathered around the family for a group hug. Cronin stood to the side before individually hugging Hill’s loved ones.
”It’s still hard for all of us to process,” Cronin said.
Clark said, ”In the first half it kind of affected me. It’s just really, really sad.”
The team will attend a memorial service for Hill on Sunday.
MCCLENDON IN ACTION
Will McClendon saw the first serious minutes of his UCLA career.
The guard tore the ACL in his right knee shortly after arriving on campus in 2021 and had to sit out all last season. He’s still wearing a knee brace as a precaution. He appeared briefly against Oregon last weekend, but clocked 10 minutes Saturday and hit a 3-pointer.
”It’s great to see him overcome all that,” Clark said. ”He’s out there every day with us in practice. It’s nice to see him get some shine.”
Denver: The Pioneers’ only other defeats so far are two losses to Sacramento State, including one in overtime this week that snapped their six-game winning streak.
UCLA: The Bruins face another tough two-game test with East Coast games against No. 13 Maryland and No. 16 Kentucky next week. Their only two losses so far came against ranked Illinois and Baylor in November.
Denver: Hosts Colorado Christian on Wednesday.
UCLA: At No. 13 Maryland on Wednesday in the first of back-to-back games against ranked opponents.
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