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After a postponed game earlier in the week and another already called off for next week, No. 23 UCLA finally will attempt to bounce back from its first Pac-12 defeat when it hosts Oregon State on Saturday afternoon at Los Angeles.
The Bruins (12-3, 8-1 Pac-12) won seven straight Pac-12 games going back to Dec. 31 and were 8-0 in conference before stumbling 73-72 in overtime against Stanford at Santa Cruz, Calif., on Saturday.
Now they turn their attention to Oregon State (8-6, 4-4 Pac-12), which saw a three-game winning streak come to an end in a 75-62 loss at Southern California on Thursday.
UCLA unexpectedly got Thursday off because its scheduled game against Oregon was called off because of COVID problems in the Ducks program. A rescheduled game between the Bruins and Ducks moved from Eugene, Ore., to Los Angeles for next Monday also was called off.
While UCLA was an observer, the Beavers were hard at work Thursday, battling USC until missing 12 of their last 16 shots to finish 22-for-62 for the game.
Ethan Thompson (20 points) and Jarod Lucas (18) were a combined 6 of 12 from 3-point range, but their teammates went just 2-for-12 from beyond the arc in the defeat.
"We needed somebody else to step up on the perimeter for us," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. "We needed another guy or two to step up and make a couple of shots, which would have helped soften things up and then maybe get us some more going to the rim."
The victory kept the Trojans on the Bruins' heels atop the Pac-12, putting pressure on UCLA to win on Saturday while USC gets the day off due to Oregon's COVID issues.
The Bruins have had an entire week to stew after their first conference loss, although coach Mick Cronin demanded this week he never sees a positive in a loss.
"The way we watch film, the way I coach, I don't coach the result. I coach the game," he said. "It's constant teaching. It's a game of mistakes, and you've got to grow and learn and get better regardless of the result.
"I just don't believe in (wake-up calls). Not saying I'm right, but you've got to play right, you've got to play smart, and the result will take care of itself."
Six of UCLA's previous seven conference wins had been by six points or fewer, leading to the assumption that they were due for a defeat. Cronin was not buying it.
"Losing is never acceptable," Cronin said. "So I take every loss hard. I probably shouldn't. It's probably not good for my health. I don't know how hard the players do, but I know I do.
"That being said, we got what we deserved. We had no business winning. If we'd have won, I'd have told our guys the same thing. We fought, yeah, we didn't give up. Yeah, that's great. But we put ourselves in a horrible position with just unacceptable, unacceptable mistakes."
UCLA and Oregon State will be meeting for the first time this season. The Bruins have prevailed in the last three head-to-heads in Westwood, but the most recent two have been by a total of eight points.
UCLA won last year's only meeting 62-58 at Oregon State in January. Bruins standout Chris Smith, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury earlier this month, led UCLA with 15 points.
--Field Level Media