UCLA didn’t have its best player.
Didn’t have two starters.
Couldn’t score for the game’s first five minutes.
Missed its first eight shots.
The shorthanded and off-target Bruins were able to regroup and refocus in a big way and they made the University of Washington basketball team pay for this, humbling the Huskies 76-50 on Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion.
Mike Hopkins’ squad (13-12 overall, 8-7 Pac-12) simply isn’t capable of hanging with the taller and deeper teams on its schedule and lost its third consecutive outing, all to ranked opponents.
The Huskies went 0-for-Los Angeles after falling to USC 79-69 two nights earlier.
With UCLA leading scorer Johnny Juzang sitting out with a hip ailment and first-team center Cody Riley likewise nursing a knee injury, the No. 13 Bruins (19-5, 11-4) turned to players such as David Singleton, Myles Johnson and Jaylen Clark to own this one.
UCLA spotted the Huskies a 6-0 lead after it failed to produce a point for the first 5:12 of play.
The Bruins were merely toying with the guys in the purple shirts at this point.
Averaging 5.2 points entering the night, Singleton picked up the slack for the absent Juzang with the freedom to pull extended minutes.
Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-4 senior reserve guard from Los Angeles quickly got the Bruins turned around by hitting 4 of 6 shots behind the 3-point line and scoring 14 points, all in the opening half. He finished with 22 points on 7-of-10 marksmanship.
Singleton’s first trey at the 13:32 mark gave UCLA is first lead and the lead for good at 9-8.
Meantime, Johnson, a 6-foot-10 junior from Long Beach, owned the boards, grabbing 9 in the opening half. He finished with 7 points, nearly double his average, a game-high 13 rebounds.
Add to that Clark, UCLA’s 6-foot-5 sophomore guard who was filling in as the starter for Juzang and starting for just the third time this season. He topped all scorers with 25 points, more than four times his average. He dropped in 12 of 15 shots.
Who needed Juzang anyway?
Same in as their previous two games, the Huskies were competitive early and then did a big fade. By halftime, they trailed 37-25. The damage was minimal to that point.
The UW’s Terrell Brown Jr., the Pac-12’s leading scorer, had one of his most ineffective outings of the season. He finished with a team-high 13 points points on 5-for-17 shooting.
Hopkins, usually reluctant to change his staring lineup unless someone gets injured, gave junior-college transfer Langston Wilson his first career start in place of PJ Fuller.
Wilson filled a spot normally occupied by guard Daejon Davis, who missed his fourth consecutive game with a shoulder injury. A 6-foot-9 junior, Wilson couldn’t do what the UCLA subs did. He scored a bucket on a dunk off a lob pass and grabbed 3 rebounds.
The Huskies momentarily went without starting forward Emmitt Matthews Jr., who took a shot to the head that was called a flagrant foul and went down. The 6-foot-7 junior sort of wobbled off the floor with the help of a trainer and headed for the locker room.
Matthews was able to return, but his team by now was stumbling badly.
UCLA opened the second half with a demoralizing 17-1 run and this one was over. The Huskies were pathetic, offering zero resistance. The margin reached 30 points at 58-28 with 13 minutes remaining.
Things got so bad Hopkins drew a rare technical foul with just under eight minutes remaining. His team was now behind 69-35.
Once they recover from this disaster, the Huskies are down to five regular-season games, including a rematch in nine days against UCLA.
They’ll play a home-and home series with Washington State on Wednesday in Pullman and Saturday at Alaska Airlines Arena next week. The Bruins visit on Monday, Feb. 28.
The end probably can’t come soon enough.
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