No. 5 UCLA shows no signs of rust in rout over Long Beach State

Twenty-six days later, as UCLA made its long-awaited return, the Bruins found themselves in a surreal scene reminiscent of one year ago.

There was an arena that was nearly empty. Fake fan noise. Piped-in band music when players ran onto the court before the game.

Reminders of the pandemic’s continuing grip could be seen and heard everywhere Thursday evening inside Pauley Pavilion. Fortunately for the Bruins, there were also some familiar on-court trends that persisted in the team’s first game in nearly a month.

Senior guard Jules Bernard continued his seasonlong surge and UCLA possessed more than enough firepower even with its defense fading badly in the second half of a 96-78 victory over Long Beach State in a hastily arranged rematch of a game originally scheduled for November.

The Bruins (9-1) used a strong second-half push to win that first meeting in a 100-79 victory but were better in the first half Thursday before guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. left departed with a sprained right ankle.

Long Beach State scored 49 points in the second half while making 55.6% of its shots but couldn’t make up any ground with the Bruins matching the Beach shot for shot.

A nearly empty Pauley Pavilion as UCLA plays Long Beach State.

A nearly empty Pauley Pavilion as UCLA plays Long Beach State on Thursday.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

UCLA got redshirt senior forward Cody Riley back from the sprained knee ligament that had sidelined him since the season opener. Riley won the game’s opening tip, scored the first points on a layup and finished with eight points and two rebounds in 20 minutes.

Bernard led the Bruins with 22 points, matching the season high he had set against the Beach nearly two months ago, and Johnny Juzang shook off a slow start to finish with 18.

The lengthy layoff was evident early in the game when Juzang airballed a baseline jumper and bricked two free throws in a strange display for someone making 86.7% of his attempts from the line this season.

The Bruins were also out of sync defensively, twice fouling three-point shooters. But they made things considerably more difficult for the Beach than they had in November, forcing a shot-clock violation generally gumming up any open lanes toward the basket.

UCLA’s Tyger Campbell buried a three-pointer to spark an 11-0 run that came mostly with Campbell on a trainer’s table after he appeared to suffer some sort of right leg injury. He returned after a few minutes, allowing the Bruins to shift their worries toward Jaquez after he landed on a foot and rolled his ankle in the final minutes of the first half.

Jaquez did not return, finishing with eight points and three rebounds in 15 minutes. He sat on the bench for part of the second half with a large wrap on his right foot before replacing it with his sock and shoe.

Freshman guard Jadon Jones led the Beach (4-8) with 27 points. After allowing the Beach’s Colin Slater and Joel Murray to combine for 57 points in November, UCLA held the duo to 12 points on five-for-14 shooting in the rematch that was played before a crowd of fewer than 100 that had been limited to family of players.

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