LAS VEGAS — The UCLA Bruins had three days off in Las Vegas to think about how they were going to rebound from losing to No. 1 Gonzaga by 20 points.
No. 2 UCLA wasted no time on Saturday, scoring 14 unanswered points early in the first half to beat UNLV 73-51.
“We had a lot to think about after our last game,” said Jules Bernard, who led UCLA with 18 points and had two blocks, four assists and four rebounds. “We had a day off and went right back to practice. That pace we put into practice is what he put into the game.”
The Bruins (6-1) shot 47% from the field and from 3-point range. Tyger Campbell had 15 points and Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez each added 12 points each.
“I’m really happy with our effort and our attitude,” UCLA coach Mike Cronin said. “I told them, I really don’t care about wins and losses, it’s about effort and attitude. I told them we have to do whatever we have to do to win a tough road game and it starts with defense.”
Bryce Hamilton led UNLV (4-3) with 15 points, while Donovan Williams added 12 points. The Rebels struggled from the field, finishing at 30%.
“We got in a hole and took a lot of 3-point shots,” said UNLV coach Kevin Kruger, whose team went 22% (6 of 27) from 3-point range. “I think a lot of the shots were right there. There were a lot of drives where we were one (pass) away from finding a better shot. I don’t want to think the sky is falling, it is UCLA.”
The Bruins outrebounded UNLV 47-27 for the game.
The Rebels scored the first two points of the game, but the Bruins went on a 14-0 run and never trailed again. UNLV cut the lead to 22-19 before UCLA led 37-22 at halftime.
UNLV was down by 9 points with 14:43 left in the second half, but the Bruins countered with a 12-0 run and grew the lead to as many as 22.
“I told them at halftime, ‘When you’re on the road, teams play with pride, they are going to play you with pressure,’” Cronin said. “We came out ready in the second half. UNLV is a team that is fast and athletic.”
UCLA: This was the finale of a three-game Las Vegas stay. The Bruins are now 7-0 against UNLV; they beat the Rebels in Los Angeles two years ago by 17 points. The Bruins start Pac-12 conference play in their next two games before four more non-conference contests.
UNLV: The Rebels faced their biggest test of the season in UCLA, but they’d already played two other Power 5 conference teams — losing to No. 20 Michigan, but beating California. The Rebels next leave town for the first time this season, traveling to SMU and then San Francisco.
The Rebels retired Freddie Banks’ No. 13 to the rafters at halftime. Banks played from 1983-87, including UNLV´s Final Four team that lost to Indiana in the semifinals. Banks had 38 points, including 10 3-pointers, in that game, and averaged 19.5 points that season.
UCLA: Hosts Colorado on Wednesday.
UNLV: Travels to SMU on Wednesday.