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Bruins dominante Cal, 76-56, as Kentucky looms

And now have two more home games ahead of the anticipated Kentucky matchup

NCAA Basketball: California at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The UCLA Bruins got a dominant win to start Pac-12 play, defeating the California Golden Bears, 76-56, on Sunday night. Guard Tyger Campbell recorded his third career double-double while Chris Smith reached a game-high 21 points in the victory.

In total, five different Bruins scored in double-figures against the Bears including Smith and Campbell as well as Jalen Hill, Jaime Jaquez and David Singleton.

UCLA was red hot on the court as a team, shooting making 30-of-50 shots including 8-of-14 from behind the arc. Smith led all scorers and that including 7-of-12 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range.

As good as the shooting was for the Bruins in this, the ball distribution was really on point and Campbell led UCLA with 12 assists. In total, the Bruins assisted on 23 of their 30 made shots in the outing versus Cal. And you better believe head coach Mick Cronin was happy about that aspect.

“As we became a good team last year and went on our run, [Tyger] grew up, he became a sophomore at some point towards the end of January and led the Pac-12 in assists to turnovers. I thought his defensive ball pressure was as good as it’s ever been today, combined with his almost-perfect game on offense. When he plays like that – we get 23 assists tonight on 30 baskets – we’re really happy that we were able to find a rhythm offensively.”

UCLA opened up a 40-22 first-half lead at the break and Cal’s only lead came at the 18:47 mark of the first in what truly was a dominant showing by the Bruins.

Now, ahead of them is the rest of a four-game home stand with matchup against San Diego set for Wednesday, December 9 and Marquette on Friday, December 11. After that, the highly-anticipated matchup between the Bruins and Kentucky Wildcats is next up for UCLA, scheduled for Saturday, December 19 at 1:15 from Cleveland, Ohio in the CBS Sports Classic.

The Wildcats currently sit at 1-3 overall, having lost their last three games against Richmond, Kansas and Georgia Tech. Kentucky’s lone win this season came against Morehead State in the season opener and they are set to play Notre Dame and Detroit Mercy ahead of the game against UCLA. They’ve committed 77 turnovers through just four games this season.

As anticipated as this matchup was between the Bruins and Wildcats, it may not be much of a game if UCLA continues to dominate the way they are and if the Wildcats continue to look as lackluster as a team as they have. They actually fell out of the AP Top 25 this week after the loss to Georgia Tech and local publications are calling it ‘rock bottom’ for Kentucky.

It will still be a great matchup pitting these two historic teams on the hard court and records will likely be thrown out the window come the Kentucky-UCLA matchup but one thing is for certain, this UCLA team is starting to look like the team they were down the stretch last year. And the Wildcats certainly won’t want to see them in Cleveland in just over a week.