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UCLA beats UC Santa Barbara 77-61, goes to 2-0 under Cronin

LOS ANGELES — Jalen Hill had a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead four players in double figures and UCLA rallied in the second half to beat UC Santa Barbara 77-61 on Sunday night.

Jules Bernard tied his career high with 20 points while making all three of his 3-pointers for the Bruins (2-0). They improved to 21-1 all-time against the Gauchos in a series that began in the 1940s.

Trailing at halftime, the Bruins opened the second half with an 18-5 run to take a 50-39 lead. Hill had seven points in the spurt during which UCSB’s Matt Freeman and Amadou Sow each picked up their third fouls.

Typical of the Bruins’ improved effort under new coach Mick Cronin was a play during the run. Tyger Campbell had a 3-pointer blocked, Alex Olesinski got the offensive rebound and missed, but Hill snagged another offensive board and tipped the ball in.

Hill played in all 33 games last season when he was second in rebounding after sitting out his first season as punishment for shoplifting during UCLA’s trip to China in 2017.

The Bruins controlled the boards, 40-26, including an 18-5 edge on the offensive glass.

Max Heidegger scored 21 points to lead the Gauchos (1-1). Freeman had 12 points and Sow had 10 rebounds.

UCSB cut its deficit to 63-55 on four straight points by Heidegger after Robinson Idehen fouled out. Sow soon picked up his fifth foul, too.

From there, the Bruins closed on a 14-6 run while repeatedly forcing the Gauchos into empty possessions to end the game.

The Gauchos shot 50 percent from the field in the first half when their largest lead was six points. They outscored UCLA 15-11, including seven straight, to end the half leading 34-32.

BIG PICTURE

UC Santa Barbara: The Gauchos were picked to finish second in the Big West this season. Coach Joe Pasternack has the program on the rise. They went 45-19 in his first two seasons, the school’s first back-to-back 20-win seasons in 29 years. They’ve got three players who stand 6-foot-10, including Idehen from Spain, who along with 6-9 Sow from Mali, present a formidable post presence.

UCLA: The young Bruins have rallied from deficits in each of their first two victories under new coach Mick Cronin. They’re showing greater hustle and persistence on the defensive end this season. They’ll be tested in the coming weeks against No. 3 Kansas, Notre Dame and No. 9 North Carolina.

NO ‘REEF

Redshirt freshman Shareef O’Neal sat out because of a right hip pointer. He’s day to day. The son of Shaquille’ O’Neal didn’t score in six minutes of the season opener and had a turnover and a steal.

UP NEXT

UC Santa Barbara: Hosts Rice on Saturday before traveling to Oregon State to face their second Pac-12 opponent in four games.

UCLA: Hosts UNLV on Friday in the third of five straight home games to open the season.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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