Nearing full strength, No. 4 UCLA set to face Marquette

NCAA

In search of his ninth consecutive double-digit scoring game to open the season, Johnny Juzang will lead No. 4 UCLA into Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon for a meeting with Marquette.

The junior guard is averaging 17.1 points this season, is shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 86.7 percent from the free-throw line. He has scored at least 11 points in all eight games this season and has also averaged 4.9 rebounds.

The Bruins (7-1) last played Dec. 1 in a 73-61 victory over Colorado. Washington had to forfeit its Dec. 5 game against the Bruins due to COVID-19 concerns.

Tyger Campbell led the way for UCLA at home against Colorado with a team-high 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Juzang contributed 15 points, and Myles Johnson posted his first double-double in a UCLA uniform with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

“When I’m out there, I’m just trying to take what the defense gives me,” said Campbell, whose strong play has continued after he led the Bruins on last year’s deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

“My teammates were finding me tonight and they were getting me open, and I got some good looks and I just knocked them down. It wasn’t anything about being super aggressive or thinking about me. I’m thinking about the team and whatever coach needs me to do.”

Cody Riley has returned to practice after an MCL sprain in the season opener and might return Saturday. Jaime Jaquez Jr., who is UCLA’s third-highest scorer, was cleared to play after sustaining a head injury against Colorado.

Despite the injuries, things have been going well for the Bruins offensively, shooting at least 46 percent from the field and at least 43 percent from 3-point range in each of their last two games.

Marquette (8-2) earned a 64-63 victory against Kansas State on Wednesday night to cap off a two-game road trip.

Kam Jones finished with 15 points, and Justin Lewis had 14 to go along with nine rebounds. Darryl Morsell, Kur Kuath and reserve Greg Elliott all tallied eight points, and despite not scoring on 0-of-7 shooting, Tyler Kolek notched eight rebounds and seven assists.

A freshman, Jones has started the last three games and is averaging 8.3 points, the third-most on the team. Head coach Shaka Smart said that he is looking forward to what Jones, along with the other freshmen on the team, are going to accomplish in their collegiate careers.

“These games bear zero resemblance to a high school game,” Smart said. “Those guys are in the middle of that, I’m super excited about their futures.”

Freshmen have played a key role for the Golden Eagles, who are a perfect 5-0 at home. Marquette has not lost at Milwaukee since Feb. 6 and currently is averaging 74.7 points per game.

The veteran leadership has also been strong, as Morsell has posted four 20-point games and Kuath has emerged as one of the best shot blockers in the Big East Conference, averaging 2.7 blocks per game.

UCLA is undefeated against the Golden Eagles, taking all three prior matchups, the most recent of which came Dec. 11, 2020.

The game matches Smart against UCLA’s Mick Cronin, the only coaches who have advanced their teams from a First Four matchup in the NCAA Tournament to a Final Four. Cronin did it last season, while Smart did it while at VCU in 2011.

–Field Level Media

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