247 News Around The World
247 News Around The World

  • San Diego State forward Matt Mitchell shoots as UCLA guard Jules Bernard, left, defends during the second half of Wednesday’s season opener in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr., left, is called for charging on San Diego State guard Terrell Gomez (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • San Diego State guard Jordan Schakel, left, drives to the basket as UCLA guard Jules Bernard defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA coach Mick Cronin yells during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against San Diego State, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell (10) dribbles behind his back as San Diego State guard Trey Pulliam defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell drives to the basket as San Diego State guard Trey Pulliam defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell, right, drives to the basket as San Diego State guard Trey Pulliam defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Chris Smith (5) blocks a shot from San Diego State guard Jordan Schakel (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Jules Bernard, left, reaches for the ball as San Diego State guard Jordan Schakel (20) looks to pass it during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Chris Smith (5) drives to the basket as San Diego State forward Matt Mitchell (11) defends, center, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell, right, loses control of the ball as San Diego State forward Nathan Mensah (31) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA coach Mick Cronin yells during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against San Diego State, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • San Diego State forward Matt Mitchell, right, drives to the basket as UCLA guard Chris Smith (5) defends during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell shoots during the first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against San Diego State, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • San Diego State forward Matt Mitchell, center, tries to get possession of the ball between UCLA guards Chris Smith, left, and Tyger Campbell during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • San Diego State forward Joshua Tomai scores during the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against UCLA on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA coach Mick Cronin, center, watches during the final minute of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against San Diego State, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA forward Cody Riley is fouled by San Diego State forward Joshua Tomai during the second half of Wednesday’s season opener in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • San Diego State players on the bench react during the final minute of the team’s 73-58 win over UCLA in an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • UCLA plays San Diego State in front of empty stands at Viejas Arena during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)


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Expected starters Johnny Juzang and Jalen Hill were ruled out of UCLA’s season opener two hours before tipoff on Wednesday night due to injury. The absence of Juzang, known for his offensive skill set, and Hill, the team’s second-leading returning scorer, left preseason All-American Chris Smith with a lot of scoring responsibility.

The problem is, foul trouble sidelined Smith for much of the game and host San Diego State took advantage in its 73-58 season-opening victory over short-handed UCLA in a Viejas Arena that was otherwise empty due to COVID-19 protocols.

The 22nd-ranked Bruins will remain in San Diego for Thanksgiving and take on Pepperdine (1-0) on Friday at noon.

Smith, the Bruins’ only senior, finished with 10 points (all in the first half) in 27 minutes. When he was on the bench with foul trouble the Bruins struggled offensively.

“Two starters not out there didn’t help,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said.

San Diego State had two big runs. One in the first half to take the lead, and the other in the second half to balloon it. The game had just one lead change. When Smith picked up a second personal foul and had to sit, San Diego State went on a 13-2 run that turned its three-point deficit into a 25-21 lead with just under six minutes left in the opening half.

During that stretch, UCLA was 1 for 8 from the field in an eight-minute window, which included a four-minute scoring drought.

San Diego State eventually extended its lead to 34-28 by halftime.

In the second half, Smith picked up his fourth personal foul at the offensive end. forcing Cronin to take him out again. The Aztecs went on a 10-2 run that pushed their lead to 58-42, with 9:20 left. The closest UCLA got for the rest of the night was within 13.

Smith eventually fouled out with 4:47 left.

The Aztecs, who relied on their disruptive defense, were led by Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel, with 15 points apiece. They each made three 3-pointers, and the Aztecs, picked to repeat as Mountain West Conference regular-season champions, finished 9 for 23 from behind the arc.

Aguek Arop and Terrell Gomez added 10 points each for SDSU, which was 30-2 last season and expecting its highest seed ever in the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. led the Bruins with 17 points and six rebounds. Forward Cody Riley pitched in 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“I don’t really care about the stats and stuff,” Jaquez Jr. said. “I just play my hardest.”

On top of UCLA’s offensive woes, Cronin was disappointed by the team’s defensive performance.

“Our defensive effort, mentally and physically, was atrocious,” said Cronin, whose team went 19-12 last season and was picked to win the Pac-12 this season.

UCLA emphasized a goal of faster play this season but had just one fast-break point.

“We couldn’t get a stop, and when we did get a stop, we couldn’t get a rebound,” Cronin said. “There are facets of the game where we have to be solid and physically tough. We aren’t a team full of (NBA) lottery picks.”

One of the most glaring statistics to Cronin was UCLA’s turnovers (15) and how many more shots that gave San Diego State. The Aztecs attempted 58 shots to UCLA’s 43.

“It was total regression tonight,” Cronin said with disappointment. “Total regression.”

Juzang has been ruled “week-to-week” with a stress reaction in his right foot. Hill, a 6-foot-10 swingman, is “day-to-day” with right knee tendinitis. Hill could play in Friday’s game.

This post first appeared on ocregister.com

The post Short-handed UCLA loses to San Diego State in season opener appeared first on 247 News Around The World.

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