Chris Smith scored 16 points and Tyger Campbell added 15 as UCLA opened a big first-half lead and finished off a 71-54 nonconference victory Friday over visiting UNLV.
Prince Ali, one of just two seniors on the Bruins’ roster, scored 14 points as UCLA improved to 3-0 under new head coach Mick Cronin.
Donnie Tillman scored 18 points and Amauri Hardy added 13 for the Runnin’ Rebels (1-3), who lost their third consecutive game but first of the season in regulation. UNLV, which also has a new head coach in T.J. Otzelberger, was coming off overtime defeats to Kansas State and Cal.
UCLA continued to show a newfound determination on defense, holding UNLV to 38.6 percent from the field. After playing for an offensive-minded coach in Steve Alford, UCLA entered Friday’s game after giving up an average of 63.0 points per game, their lowest over the first two contests since the 2010-11 season.
UCLA opened a 22-point first-half lead as Smith scored 14 points in the opening 20 minutes. But the Rebels closed the opening half on a 7-0 run as the Bruins led 40-28 at the break. UCLA had the advantage at halftime for the first time in their three games.
The Bruins and Rebels played even throughout much a sluggish second half when UNLV shot 35.7 percent from the field. The teams were even on the stat sheet as well, with UCLA holding a distinct advantage with 25 points off turnovers to UNLV’s 13.
UCLA finally broke free in the final six minutes as the Rebels went on a stretch where they made just two of 11 shots from the field.
Freshman Jaime Jacquez Jr. added eight points for the Bruins after going scoreless in his first two career games. UNLV received 13 points from Elijah Mitrou-Long and 10 from Bryce Hamilton.
UCLA improved to 6-0 all-time against UNLV. The teams last met in 2015 in the Maui Invitational.
—Field Level Media