Remember UCLA’s desert dud against Arizona State?
This was shaping up as something much worse.
After an energetic first half, the Bruins went completely flat on their home court. Jaime Jaquez Jr. committed a flurry of turnovers. Jules Bernard airballed a three-pointer at the end of a possession coming out of a timeout. Johnny Juzang missed almost every shot he took.
The unease was palpable inside Pauley Pavilion after Arizona State’s Marreon Jackson made a running hook shot to pull the Sun Devils to within one point with eight minutes left.
After leading by 17 points late in the first half, the No. 12 Bruins appeared on the brink of a total collapse.
But they finally pulled themselves together, one possession after another, to emerge with a 66-52 victory Monday evening that qualified as a major sigh of relief.
David Singleton drained a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock after sidestepping a defender. Jaquez threw a pass to Cody Riley for a dunk. Jaquez made a couple of free throws.
Eventually, UCLA was back up by 11 points and could exhale.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Clark led the Bruins (20-5, 12-4 Pac-12 Conference) with 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals as part of his latest impressive two-way effort. Bernard salvaged a performance in which he airballed two jumpers with 16 points.
Clark allowed himself a moment late in the first half, unleashing a shimmy of elation while standing along the baseline. He had just used his muscular arms and quick legs to snatch the ball in the backcourt, following his steal with a layup that extended his team’s growing lead.
The crowd roared, fans rising for a standing ovation. Clark shook with excitement over his latest contribution to a team that appears increasingly invincible every time he’s on the court.
His performance was the perfect tone-setter for a team that completed a second consecutive three-game homestand in which none of its opponents reached 60 points.
There was one final highlight for Clark after he followed a steal in the final minute with a dunk.
The carousel of injuries continued for the Bruins even on a night they got back Juzang from the one-game absence caused by a scooter fall that resulted in a sore hip. Point guard Tyger Campbell sat out because of a left shoulder injury, and guard Peyton Watson was sidelined by a left knee injury.
DJ Horne, Jackson and Jay Heath each scored nine points to lead the Sun Devils (10-16, 6-10).