UCLA vs. Villanova score, takeaways: No. 2 Bruins make key plays late to win showdown vs. No. 4 Wildcats in OT
UCLA overcame a slow start to pull off a hard-fought overtime victory in an early season top-five battle
UCLA started slow in Mick Cronin's first two seasons as coach before rallying late in both cases. It appears that trend is now over in his third season as the No. 2 Bruins added an early marquee victory to their resume on Friday night with an 84-77 overtime win over No. 4 Villanova. The Bruins (2-0) trailed by 10 midway through the second half, but their defense stiffened when needed, and the duo of Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. provided some timely offense.
The duo combined for 46 points, but In the end, it was two UCLA role players who helped force overtime. With Juzang sitting as Cronin went to a defensive-oriented lineup in the final minute, Jules Bernard banked in a contested floater with 30 seconds left to tie the game at 67. Then, Jaylen Clark provided stifling defense as Villanova's Justin Moore drove for a potential game-winning basket in the final seconds of regulation.
In overtime, the Bruins held Villanova (1-1) without a field goal for more than four minutes. The Wildcats were led by 20 points from Jermaine Samuels and got 18 from Collin Gillespie.
Free throws made a huge difference
UCLA did not attempt a free-throw until the 5:24 mark of the second half, when Jaquez Jr. made 1 of 2. By the time the overtime clock expired, the Bruins had made 17 of 19 free throws for the game. They made their final 16 attempts from the charity stripe to cement the outcome.
For much of regulation, the free-throw disparity was evident in Villanova's favor, as was the Wildcats' advantage in points off turnovers. While the Wildcats did finish with a 19-10 lead in points off turnovers, the free-throw factor flipped in UCLA's favor and helped change the tone of the game. Villanova had no choice but to foul once UCLA opened up an overtime lead, and the Bruins had no problem at the line.
UCLA is oozing depth
Villanova was forced to use an eighth player in the closing seconds of overtime, but the Wildcats employed just a seven-man rotation during virtually the entire game. Even then, reserve guard Chris Arcidiacono played only seven minutes, and that was with Moore hampered by foul trouble.
In short, the Wildcats are a bit lean on depth at this point, which isn't a huge shock. They are a team led by the trio of Gillespie, Moore and Samuels, and those three are going to play nearly every minute of any close game, so long as their foul situations permit it.
But Cronin appears to have the opposite problem. UCLA used a nine-man rotation, and that was without starting center Cody Riley, who was out with a sprained knee. Junior guard Jake Kyman, a player with 58 career appearances, didn't play after logging 15 minutes in UCLA's opener, and five-star freshman Peyton Watson logged only six minutes. Cronin has more depth than he knows what to do with, and that should benefit his team as the season goes on. This team has already been hit with injuries to Riley and true freshman Will McClendon, but the depth it has built paid off Friday.
UCLA could move to No. 1
Gonzaga held the No. 1 ranking for the duration of the 2020-21 regular season, and Baylor held the No. 2 ranking for nearly all that time. But we could be in for an early disruption to the polls this season, depending on how things play out Saturday. The Zags are again No. 1 but face a stiff test against No. 5 Texas. If the Longhorns prevail, AP voters would be faced with three compelling options.
UCLA was No. 2 and beat a top-five opponent, but the game was at home. No. 3 Kansas debuted with an impressive neutral-site win over Michigan State on Tuesday. And, if the Longhorns were to upset Gonzaga, they would have beaten the top-ranked team on the road. Any of the three would have a solid case for No. 1, but it stands to reason that the Bruins would get the honor since they entered the week ranked No. 2.
What a game and what a win for UCLA. This one will reverberate for months and stand out as a marquee victory on their resume. This team struggled early in the season the last two seasons. Not this time. A top-5 victory is a sign that this team means business. If Gonzaga falters against Texas tomorrow, this will be the No. 1 team in the nation.
Nova on the ropes
Justin Moore just fouled out, and Tyger Campbell is going to the line with 44 seconds left. Bruins up 76-72 and have the Wildcats on the ropes. Moore did a good job playing with four fouls for a long time, but he's done now.
UCLA surging in OT
Makes from Campbell, Juzang and Jaquez have UCLA up 74-69 with 2:39 remaining. Timeout for Villanova to regroup. Are the Wildcats finally running out of gas at 1:37 a.m. Eastern time after really playing just 6 guys the entire game? We'll find out shortly.
Going to overtime
Justin Moore drove and had a chance to win it in the final seconds, and he thought he drew a foul on Jaylen Clark. But no whistle, so we're going to overtime tied at 67. Moore has four fouls, so that;'s something the watch.
We've got a tie game with 25 seconds left. Villanova basketball after a prayer from Jules Bernard falls for UCLA.
UCLA punches back
The Bruins got their first FT attempts of the game, and Jaquez split them. Now, as we hit the u4 timeout, it's Villanova 63-61. Wildcats haven't scored in 4:18 and are 1 of their last 9. Add Jules Bernard to UCLA's list of double figure scorers. Big finish coming. Credit to the Bruins for striking back after trailing by 10 at the 9:24 mark.
If Villanova escapes from Pauley Paviliion with a win in a game during which Justin Moore was saddled with foul trouble, that will be particularly impressive. His minutes total is going to be way down when compared to his season average when it's all said and done. He's got four fouls and is on the bench for at least another couple of minutes.
Nova up 7
Jermaine Samuels was somehow left absolutely wide open on the wing for a 3 that he drills to put Villanova back up 63-56 at the u8 timeout. This comes after a couple of big-time Tyger Campbell makes gave the Bruins the momentum. Campbell, Jaquez and Juzang in double figures for UCLA. Wildcats are an insane 10-of-17 from 3-point range. Their efficient outside shooting, points off turnovers and free-throw advantage explain the seven-point lead.
So with 9:56 remaining in the game, UCLA has yet to attempt a free-throw. Villanova has attempted only eight, but the discrepancy is pretty weird. The Wildcats lead it 57-50 after a 3-pointer from Justin Moore. He's in double figures at 12 now with Gillespie (15) and Samuels (13). Nova's lethal trio is outperforming UCLA's JJ duo of Jaquez and Juzang.
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