As college leaders meet, football players push to play

After the Power Five conference commissioners met Sunday to discuss mounting concern about whether a college football season can be played in a pandemic, players took to social media to urge leaders to let them play.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said no decisions on the season have been made, but conceded the outlook has not improved.

“Are we in a better place today than two weeks, ago?” he said. “No, we’re not.”

Bowlsby cited “growing evidence and the growing pool of data around myocarditis.”

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart and it has been found in some COVID-19 patients. There is concern it could be a long-term complication of contracting the virus even in young, healthy people, a group that has usually avoided severe cardiovascular symptoms.

Also Sunday night, the Big Ten’s university presidents and chancellors held a previously unscheduled meeting, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was not announced by the conference.

Another person with direct knowledge of the meeting speaking on condition of anonymity said no votes were taken or decisions made about the college football season.

The final call on whether major college football will played this season rests in the hands of the university presidents who oversee the largest conferences.

All this activity comes a day after the Mid-American Conference became the first among 10 leagues that play at the highest tier of Division I college football to cancel fall sports because of concerns about keeping athletes from contracting and spreading COVID-19.

The MAC’s decision came less than a month before the first games are scheduled to be played and raised questions if other conferences might follow.

Also on Saturday, the Big Ten slowed its ramp up to the season, announcing its teams would not be permitted to start full contact practices until further notice. The Big Ten season is scheduled to start Labor Day weekend.

Meanwhile, college football players took to social media Sunday to push for a season, led by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with a series of tweets.

“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence tweeted. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract covid19.”

Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth had a similar message.

“Since day one coming back to campus the Penn State Football staff and medical experts have put our health and safety first, above anything else,” he tweeted. “The guidelines put into place keep us safe while playing the game we love. We are ready to play and we want to play.”

Other players tweeted with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, and within a few hours that movement merged with another. Lawrence, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State All-America running back Cuba Hubbard, Alabama running back Najee Harris and numerous other players from across the country posted a graphics with #WeWantToPlay and #WeAreUnited, the hashtag used by a group of Pac-12 players who announced a college player rights movement a week ago.

Under the logos of each Power Five conference — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — the players pronounced their platform:

— We all want to play football this season.

— Establish universal mandated health & safety procedures and protocols to protect college athletes against COVID-19 among all conferences throughout the NCAA.

— Give players the opportunity to opt out and respect their decision.

— Guarantee eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.

— Use our voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials: Ultimately create a College Football Players Association.

— Representative of all Power Five conferences.

The parents of Ohio State football players weighed in, too, posting a letter saying they were confident in the university’s plan to keep their sons safe.

“We believe that this age group represents some of the healthiest individuals, while we recognize the risk cannot be eliminated, we believe the risk is minimal and the season can safely and responsibly occur,” wrote the Football Parents Association at Ohio State.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said he has heard the same from Fighting Irish football players. Notre Dame has had only two COVID-19 cases since it began testing athletes.

“I’ve been around our guys and they thinks it’s safe and they want to try and play,” Swarbrick said. “If we change course, we better be able to articulate the reason for doing so to our student-athletes. They are going to want to know why.”

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Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott responds to football players threatening opt-outs

The Pac-12 responded Monday to football players who have threaten to opt-out of the season because of concerns related to health and safety, racial injustice and economic rights with a letter touting the conference’s work in those areas and an invitation to meet later this week.

A letter from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, dated Aug. 3, was sent to 12 football players leading the #WeAreUnited movement. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press and first reported by Sports Illustrated.

The players say they have been communicating with more than 400 of their peers throughout the Pac-12. The group released a lengthy list of demands Sunday and said if they are not addressed they will not practice or play. The group said it reached out to the Pac-12 on Sunday to request a meeting. In the letter, Scott said he was eager to discuss their concerns.

“I will come back to you in the coming days following discussion with our members and student-athlete leaders to schedule a call for this week to discuss the matters that you have raised,” Scott wrote.

Also Monday night, Washington State coach Nick Rolovich said in a statement he regretted cautioning one of his players about being part of the #WeAreUnited movement. A recording of a conversation between Rolovich and receiver Kassidy Woods obtained by the Dallas Morning News revealed the coach seemingly warning the player that being involved with the group would hurt his standing with the team. Woods had called Rolovich to inform him he was opting out of the season for health reasons related to COVID-19.

“I spoke with Kassidy Woods in a private phone conversation last Saturday afternoon. This was before the #WeAreUnited group had released its letter of concerns,” said Rolovich, who is in his first season was Washington State coach. “Without knowing the concerns of the group, I regret that my words cautioning Kassidy have become construed as opposition. I’m proud of our players and all the Pac-12 student-athletes for using their platform, especially for matters they are passionate about. WSU football student-athletes who have expressed support for the #WeAreUnited group will continue to be welcome to all team-related activities, unless they choose to opt out for health and safety reasons.”

The #WeAreUnited players’ demands focused on four areas: health and safety protections, especially protocols related to COVID-19; guarding against the elimination of sports programs by schools during an economic downturn; ending racial injustice in college sports; and economic freedom and equity.

Scott addressed each area, highlighting the conference’s:

— Medical advisory committee working on COVID-19 protocols and webinars for student-athletes and their parents;

— Support for reforming NCAA rules regarding name, image and likeness compensation for college athletes;

— Recent initiatives to address racial inequities such as the formation of a social justice & anti-racism advisory group that includes student-athletes representatives.

Scott also listed 10 areas in which, he wrote, “The Pac-12 has been a leader in supporting student-athlete health and well-being …” Included were enhanced medical coverage post-eligibility; cost-of-attendance stipends added to the value of scholarship; mental health support; and the Pac-12’s support of reforming NCAA transfer rules to allow athletes more freedom to switch schools.

Pac-12 football teams are scheduled to begin preseason practices Aug. 17 and the league’s conference-only regular season is set to start Sept. 26.

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UCLA’s AD Martin Jarmond faces many challenges with new job

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Most new athletic directors who take over in July have the luxury of getting acclimated to their new school before things really ramp up in two months. That isn’t going to be the case for the start of Martin Jarmond’s tenure at UCLA.

“You would like have something resembling normalcy, but I have to come in and embrace the challenges,” said Jarmond, who officially took the helm on Wednesday. “I’m not the only one going through what is an uncertain time.”

The 39-year old Jarmond was named UCLA’s first Black athletic director in May. He is also the first AD in the program’s 101-year history who has no prior ties to the university. He replaces Dan Guerrero, who led his alma mater for 18 years.

Jarmond, who was hired in Westwood after three years leading Boston College’s athletic department, has a lot on his plate. Not only is there trying to navigate 23 teams in 15 sports through the coronavirus pandemic, but there is the added challenge of Under Armour trying to terminate its record apparel contract with the university. The company informed UCLA last week of its intentions.

The two sides are four years into a 15-year deal worth $280 million, which remains the highest in college athletics. Under Armour pays $11 million per year in rights and marketing fees as well as contributing $2 million per year to aid in facility improvements. Under terms of the contract, the company is supposed to supply $6.85 million in athletic apparel, footwear and uniforms.

Jarmond reiterated last week’s statement that the matter is being evaluated by the university and its attorneys.

Under Armour cited the team’s struggles in its highest profile sports as a reason for ending the partnership. The football program has had a losing record four straight seasons, including a 7-17 mark in Chip Kelly’s first two seasons, which has led to declining attendance at the Rose Bowl. Men’s basketball struggled the first half of last season but won nine of its last 11 in Mick Cronin’s first season.

On-field performance though will eventually rise on Jarmond’s list of priorities. His first task is trying to make sure UCLA’s teams can return healthy once games begin. The campus started welcoming athletes in football and fall Olympic sports last week, beginning with testing before they could progress to offseason conditioning drills.

The NCAA recently approved a plan allowing for extended football and basketball workouts, but the county has not cleared UCLA for that timeline yet. The university reports that 75 members of the campus community have tested positive, but doesn’t specify whether they are athletes. This past week, 18 students and six staff members had positive tests.

When football players expressed concerns about returning to campus two weeks ago, Jarmond met with the team via Zoom to answer questions along with Kelly.

“I thought it was important to make sure everyone was heard, along with trying to show coaches that things can be addressed head on,” Jarmond said. “I think our safety plan is thorough but we can’t control the spikes going on throughout the country.”

Jarmond is known as one of the country’s best athletic fundraisers, not only at Boston College but when he worked in the athletic programs at Michigan State and Ohio State. That will be needed at UCLA, which ran an $18.9-million deficit during the 2019 fiscal year. That figure could more than double this year.

Jarmond is still doing most of his work from Boston while trying to relocate to Los Angeles. He was on campus last month for the first time after all of his interviews with the search committee were done remotely due to the pandemic.

In order to find out more from students and supporters, he has launched MJ Listens on the athletic program’s website.

“It is critically important to listen and learn from key stakeholders. I have a pretty good idea of where to start but a lot of things will be dictated with what is currently happening,” he said.

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Former UCLA pitcher Tyson Brummett, 3 others die in plane crash

AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) — A former UCLA pitcher and three others died in a plane crash in rural Utah.

Ex-pitcher Tyson Brummett, 35, of Salt Lake City, was flying the small plane, which left from the South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan and crashed near Box Elder Peak in American Fork Canyon just before 8 a.m. Friday, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

A witness said the plane went into a downward corkscrew motion as it crashed.

TV station WPVI reports all four people on board did not survive.

The passengers were identified as Elaine W. Blackhurst, 60, her husband Douglas Robinson Blackhurst, 62; and their nephew Alex Blackhurst Ruegner, 35. The three were from Riverton, Utah.

“The (Philadelphia) Phillies organization sends heartfelt condolences to the family of and friends of former pitcher Tyson Brummett, along with three members of the Ruegner and Blackhurst families, who tragically passed away in a plane crash yesterday morning,” the team said in a statement released Saturday.

Brummett was drafted by the Phillies in 2007 out of UCLA.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the crash.

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UCLA adds receiver Isaiah Newcombe to 2021 class

UCLA received its ninth commit of its 2021 recruiting class Saturday night.

Three-star wide receiver Isaiah Newcombe, from Arizona, announced his commitment to the Bruins’ program via Twitter. He is UCLA’s fourth commitment in the last eight days.

Man!! Words can’t describe how excited I am right now!!🤩@CoachNewcombe @MsRachelN @UCLAFootball @GeoffreyLeins @CoachJimmieD @EthanYoungFB @CasteelFootball pic.twitter.com/rjL3pVo82z

— Isaiah Newcombe (@IsaiahNewcombe) June 14, 2020

“I would like to thank my family, friends, and coaches for supporting me throughout this whole process,” Newcombe tweeted. “I would also like to thank my dad for everything. You’ve helped in so many ways, you’ve pushed me to be the best. I would also like to thank all my teachers for helping and guiding me. After weeks of talking and praying over this, I’m excited to announce my commitment to the University of California, Los Angeles.”

Newcombe, 6-1, 185, is the third receiver committed to the Bruins’ 2021 class, joining Ezavier Staples and DJ Justice. According to 247Sports.com, Newcombe is not nationally ranked but the site lists him as the No. 10 prospect out of the state of Arizona.

With his addition, UCLA’s class falls to No. 5 in the Pac-12 and No. 58 nationally after rising to No. 4 in the conference and No. 54 earlier in the week with Deshun Murrell’s commitment.

The Arizona native chose UCLA over offers from Washington, Utah, Boise State and Fresno State.

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Former UCLA football coach Pepper Rodgers dies at 88

Former UCLA football coach Pepper Rodgers died Thursday after reportedly being hospitalized for injuries suffered in a fall at his home in Reston, Va., last week. He was 88.

A statement about his passing from his alma mater, Georgia Tech, did not give a cause of death.

Rodgers coached the Bruins for three seasons from 1971-1973. After a 2-7-1 record his first season, he turned the program around for winning seasons of 8-3 and 9-2 his last two years. He was named the Pac-8 Coach of the Year after the 1972 and 1973 seasons.

Under head coach Tommy Prothro, Rodgers was also an assistant coach for the Bruins during the 1965 and 1966 seasons. Prior to that he held assistant coaching positions at Air Force (from 1958-1959) and at Florida (1960 to 1964). His first head coach role came in 1967 for Kansas, where he led the Jayhawks to a Big Eight Championship during his second season.

He followed his time at UCLA by returning to Georgia Tech to coach his alma mater. In his six seasons with the Yellow Jackets, he led the team to four winning seasons and was twice named the Southern Independent Coach of the Year.

“I am devastated to learn of the passing of Pepper Rodgers,” Georgia Tech Athletics Director Todd Stansbury said in a release. “He was a Georgia Tech legend, having won a national championship as an outstanding player and going on to compile four winning seasons in six years as head coach.

“On a personal note, he was the coach that recruited me to Georgia Tech, and I am eternally grateful to him for bringing me here. If it weren’t for Pepper, I would have never had the opportunity to live out my dreams as a Tech student, football player, alumnus and, now, athletics director. He has also been a mentor and friend throughout my professional career and I will miss him greatly. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Livingston, his family and his many, many friends. We have lost a great Tech man.”

Rodgers had two professional coaching roles, first in the United States Football League with the Memphis Showboats (from 1984 to 1985), and with the Memphis Mad Dogs of the Canadian Football League in 1995.

He served as vice president of football operations for the Washington Redskins from 2001-2004.

As a quarterback for Georgia Tech in the 1950s, Rodgers led the Yellow Jackets to two conference championships, two Sugar Bowl victories and a share of the 1952 national championship with Michigan State. He was named the MVP of the 1954 Sugar Bowl and inducted into the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in 2018.

After his collegiate football career came to a close, he spent five years in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot.

Rodgers is survived by his wife, Livingston, his daughters, Terri and Kelly, and his sons, Rick and Kyle.

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UCLA forward Jalen Hill withdraws his name from NBA Draft

Jalen Hill is returning to Westwood.

The UCLA forward has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft, a school spokesperson said, to return to the Bruins for his redshirt junior season. Hill’s name was on a list of players who declared early for the draft released by the NBA this week.

Hill started in 25 of 30 games for UCLA as a sophomore, averaging nine points and 6.9 rebounds per contest, leading the Bruins in the latter category while also pacing the team with 1.1 blocks per game.

He earned honorable mention on the Pac-12’s all-defensive team as a sophomore.

With the former Corona Centennial standout returning to UCLA, leading scorer Chris Smith is now the lone Bruin still testing the NBA waters.

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UCLA to have virtual commencement ceremonies to limit spread of coronavirus

LOS ANGELES — UCLA announced Wednesday that its spring 2020 commencement ceremonies will be adapted to virtual events in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“An engaging virtual ceremony,” will be held June 12 for the UCLA College commencement, the university’s largest, Chancellor Gene D. Block said.

“Consistent with our tradition, the ceremony will feature an inspiring keynote speaker, whose name will be announced soon,” Block said. “The College will offer new opportunities to connect our graduates in a variety of ways that further enhance the virtual event.”

Block pledged that “we will work diligently to make graduation as special as possible for all of our students and all of your loved ones.”

UCLA is among the local universities that have moved to distance learning because of the virus.

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UCLA women defeat Colorado, can earn No. 2 seed on Sunday

LOS ANGELES — Having lost two of its previous four games, the UCLA women’s basketball team knew things had to change during its final homestand of the regular season. Sluggish starts brought on by shooting slumps were leading to mental lapses throughout games that allowed opponents to linger deep into games.

“We haven’t been having as much fun because we know deep down we haven’t been playing as well as we need to,” UCLA coach Cori Close said.

The ninth-ranked Bruins went into Friday night’s game against Colorado determined to play better, smarter and more as a team, knowing these last few games would have a significant impact on their seeding for the Pac-12 Tournament and beyond. And when the final buzzer sounded following the Bruins’ 62-52 victory, Close knew her team had done just that.

“I don’t think it was really anything different for us, I just think it was us focusing better,” Close said. “Us executing the game plan better. Us focusing on our strengths and what we needed to do to play to our bests. … That’s a step in the right direction.”

UCLA (24-4 overall, 13-4 Pac-12) moved into a tie for second place with fourth-ranked Stanford and owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Cardinal (24-5, 13-4). Defeat Utah (13-15, 6-11) in Sunday afternoon’s regular-season finale, and the Bruins secure the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament.

Avoiding a fourth-place finish comes with the perk of remaining on the opposite side of the bracket from top seed Oregon (27-2, 16-1). As the No. 2 or 3 seed, the Bruins could only face the third-ranked Ducks in the championship game. Arizona (23-5, 12-5) is in fourth and closes its season against last-place Cal on Sunday in Tucson.

“Honestly, I don’t think it means much to me,” said Japreece Dean, who had 12 points on Friday. “I know it’s better for us in the Pac-12 and who we play, but I’m not too focused on where we are.”

UCLA was led by junior forward Michaela Onyenwere with 16 points. In her first game back after sitting out two games with an injury, redshirt junior guard Natalie Chou had 10 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots. Freshman guard Camryn Brown tied her career-high with eight points in 22 minutes, as the Bruins posted their first wire-to-wire win in Pac-12 play this season.

“Obviously starts have been a real struggle for us and so it was nice to have our best quarter be our first quarter,” Close said. “I was really pleased with how we got more high-percentage shots, we finished better, we let our offense create easier opportunities tonight. … (I’m) really proud of a lot of people who stepped up.”

UCLA played well defensively, holding Colorado to 23 points in the first half, though the teams combined for 36 turnovers. Colorado (16-12, 5-12) made more mistakes, unforced and otherwise, with 19 turnovers. The Bruins were sloppy as well with 17 turnovers but had control of the game throughout in bouncing back from Sunday’s 74-68 loss at Washington.

UCLA led 20-8 in the first quarter, as the Buffaloes had six turnovers and shot just 27.3 percent from the field, going scoreless for a stretch of nearly six minutes.

“We know that defense is our anchor,” Brown said. “When we lock in on defense and we’re super energetic and really focused on the defensive end, it really calms us down on the offensive end. It makes our shots a lot easier and we get to go with the flow.”

UCLA led 24-10 at one point but made just three field goals in the second quarter, and Colorado used nine second-chance points to cut the deficit to 31-23 by halftime.

“I didn’t like how we turned the ball over in the second quarter,” Close said. “But I really liked our response. After the first two in the third, we only turned it over six times the rest of the half. That’s much more characteristic of who we are. I do like the 18 assists. We haven’t had that in a while, and I’m confident we’re going to take care of the ball better.”

UCLA indeed opened the third quarter with back-to-back turnovers, allowing Colorado to get within six points. But an Onyenwere layup helped the Bruins find their energy, and a 9-0 run gave UCLA its biggest lead at 42-27 with 5:32 left in the third. Dean took a key charge early in that spurt and Charisma Osborne hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. Dean made a layup for the 15-point lead.

Whenever Colorado attempted to get back in the game, Brown was there with a response. In the final minute of the third quarter, she rebounded an Osborne miss and scored, then she scored the opening basket of the fourth quarter to keep the margin at 12.

“My teammates have always just given me that confidence in practice,” Brown said. “I just wanted to come out here and be the spark that my teammates needed wherever they needed me to be.”

Mya Hollingshed cut the margin to seven with a 3-pointer with 5:43 left, but Dean answered with another layup to make it 56-47. Neither team scored for more than two minutes, then the Bruins rattled off four in a row to go up 11 with 1:15 left and they closed it out from there.

Hollingshed had a game-high 22 points for Colorado, which has lost 11 straight against the Bruins.

UP NEXT

UCLA closes its regular season on Sunday at 1 p.m. when it faces Utah. Before the game, the Bruins will recognize their two seniors, Dean and Ally Rosenblum.

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Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s shot lifts UCLA men’s basketball into first-place tie in Pac-12

  • UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) shoots the wining 3-point shot against Arizona State forward Mickey Mitchell (00) during an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA forward Jalen Hill, back, is fouled by Arizona State forward Jalen Graham (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

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  • Arizona State forward Romello White (23) is defended by UCLA forward Jalen Hill (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) shoots under pressure from Arizona State forward Kimani Lawrence (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Arizona State forward Romello White (23) is defended by UCLA forward Jalen Hill (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Arizona State guard Remy Martin, right, shoots next to UCLA guard Jules Bernard (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Arizona State forward Mickey Mitchell (00) and UCLA forward Jalen Hill (24) vie for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) passes the ball while defended by Arizona State players, including guard Alonzo Verge (11), during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell (10) drives between Arizona State forward Mickey Mitchell, left, and guard Rob Edwards (2) during an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA forward Jalen Hill, right, shoots over Arizona State forward Romello White during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Arizona State forward Romello White, center, shoots under pressure from UCLA guards Jules Bernard (3) and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA forward Jalen Hill, back, is fouled by Arizona State forward Jalen Graham (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Arizona State forward Romello White (23) is defended by UCLA forward Jalen Hill (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) shoots under pressure from Arizona State forward Kimani Lawrence (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Arizona State guard Remy Martin, right, shoots next to UCLA guard Jules Bernard (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. (4) passes the ball while defended by Arizona State players, including guard Alonzo Verge (11), during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • UCLA guard Tyger Campbell (10) drives between Arizona State forward Mickey Mitchell, left, and guard Rob Edwards (2) during an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

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LOS ANGELES – There were less than 16 seconds left in the game. UCLA was tied with Arizona State with an opportunity to move into first place in the Pac-12 Conference.

With the seconds winding down, UCLA guard Tyger Campbell brought the ball up the floor, then found an open Jaime Jaquez Jr. above the arc. Without a moment to think, Jaquez caught Campbell’s pass, took one dribble to his left and released the 3-point shot.

Swish.

“You dream about shots like that in a big college game like that, battling for first place, that’s something I used to do when I was a kid,” Jaquez said. “To do it tonight, it was amazing. It was an unreal feeling.”

Moments later, as the 0.6 seconds on the game clock ran out, Jaquez found himself with the game ball. He chucked it into the stands as his teammates jumped him in celebration.

The Bruins defeated Arizona State, 75-72, Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion for their sixth straight win, and their 10th in their last 12 games. But more impressively, Jaquez’ winning shot pushed UCLA into a tie with No. 14 Oregon (22-7 overall, 11-5 Pac-12) for the first place in the Pac-12.

“It feels great right now,” Jaquez said. “As a team, we believed from the start this could happen. We believed it from the very beginning, even when we were losing games. This is what we’ve been working for.”

UCLA (18-11, 11-5) was led by true freshman Jake Kyman with a career-high tying 21 points and a career-high six rebounds, and a career-high 14 assists and 10 points from Campbell. Jaquez finished behind Kyman with 13 points.

The Bruins found themselves facing another double-digit deficit in the first half. But thanks to an explosive 3-point performance from Kyman to close the half, UCLA was able to come back and challenge the Sun Devils the rest of the way, forcing the game to come down to its final seconds.

“It’s a chess match the whole game against them,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “He’s [ASU coach Bobby Hurley] trying to get certain mismatches and isos, I’m trying to do the same thing on the other end. But at the end of the day, players win games and we just happened to make one more play.”

After falling behind UCLA by as much as nine points, ASU used an 8-0 run to tie the game at 58 thanks to a layup from Rob Edwards at 8:41 in the second half. The Sun Devils extended their run to 10 unanswered points before a 3-pointer from Jaquez and a layup from Campbell gave the Bruins a 64-60 lead.

But ASU (19-9, 10-5) didn’t back down.

The teams began trading buckets for the game’s lead, tying the game a total of six times in its last 20 minutes. But after two of ASU’s biggest contributors, Romello White and Alonzo Verge Jr., fouled out in the final minutes, the game ultimately fell into the hands of UCLA in the last possession.

Cronin wanted Campbell to drive the ball into the key and draw a foul. But the instant Campbell saw Jaquez’s defender leave him in an attempt to defend the penetration to the lane, he knew he had to make the assist.

“Jaime was just so open, and I knew he was going to hit it and so I passed it back and he stepped into it,” Campbell said. “It was cash when it left his hands.”

The Bruins were down by 10 with less than eight minutes in the first half when Kyman single-handedly brought the team back into the game.

In his 12 minutes off the bench, Kyman went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, including three consecutive 3-pointers, to push the Bruins on 20-5 run and a halftime lead of 41-35. He led all scorers at the intermission with 19 points.

Remy Martin led ASU with 30 points, followed by 23 from Edwards and 12 from Verge.

NEXT UP: The Bruins play their final home game at Pauley Pavilion this season when they host Arizona (19-9,9-6) Saturday night at 7 p.m. UCLA will recognize its three seniors, Prince Ali, Alex Olesinski and Armani Dodson, before the game.

For. The. WIN. 🤩@jaquez_jr drills this 3⃣ to send @UCLAMBB to sleep tied in the top spot in #Pac12Hoops. pic.twitter.com/MmmzRR8dJD

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) February 28, 2020

.@jakekyman13 lit up the floor tonight. 🔥

He tied his career high with 21 points in @UCLAMBB’s victory over ASU. This 3⃣ to send the Bruins ahead in the 1st half takes the @OpusBank #12Best moment. pic.twitter.com/ZFpGboryHX

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) February 28, 2020

Read more about Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s shot lifts UCLA men’s basketball into first-place tie in Pac-12 This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

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