Monday, November 29, 2021

Peyton Watson impresses with his UCLA debut, beating Chico State in Shows.

UCLA provided a platform for his new phenomenon in the final seconds of the first half, allowing him to dribble above the three-point line. The freshman walked up to his protector and unleashed an evil crossover, opening the way to the basket. He accelerated for a monstrous two-handed dunk.

Hello everyone, Peyton Watson.

On the night that Bruins fans re-met a few veteran players and greeted a few new ones after 20 months away from Pauly’s Pavilion, there was no doubt about who caused the most excitement on Thursday.

Watson, a 6’8 ” security guard from Long Beach Poly, followed his dunk, hunched under the basket and letting out his own roar. He was punched in the chest by teammate Johnny Juzang on his way to the locker room during an interval between an exhibition match against Chico State, which the Bruins won # 2 in a 100–61 shot.

“I’m a very emotional player,” Watson said. “I like to play very intensely, emotionally, to involve the crowd in the game, I just think it helps the team to gain momentum and it will be fun for everyone to play.”

Watson added a breakaway dunk tomahawk and a pass out of bounds dunk en route to eight points, eight rebounds, four assists, three interceptions and two blocks in 22 minutes with no bench. His last block came in a game that looked like the Bruins were hopelessly lost before he used his length to bounce back and recapture layouts.

The stat that delighted UCLA coach Mick Cronin the most was Watson’s nine dodges that showed him defensively.

It was also an impressive debut for transfer center alumnus Miles Johnson, who could be the rim-guard that the Bruins were sorely lacking in the last two months of last season after Jalen Hill left. Johnson instigated quick breaks with blocks and finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks from the bench.

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Johnson showed how difficult it was for him to defend by raising his massive right arm twice to make entrance passes, which he mistook for a dunk and layup.

UCLA guard Jules Bernard and Chico State defender Joshua Hamilton chase the ball during the first half of Thursday’s exhibition game at the Paulie Pavilion.

(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press) #

Playing at home in front of fans for the first time since defeating Arizona on February 29, 2020, the Bruins returned to the same starting lineup of four defenders that made it to the Final Four. Forward Cody Riley was joined by security guards Tiger Campbell, Jaime Hakes Jr., Jules Bernard and Juzang.

Hakes was looking tighter than last season, his extra bulk allowed him to use his body to ward off defenders during downtime. He scored 23 points in a game eight out of eight, while Juzang had 19 points against the Division II Wildcats.

Watson was full of energy before the opening remarks and enthusiastically waved to the students who chanted his name during the roll call. He had a little hiccups in the first game, making only three of nine shots and two dodging.

There were no red-shirt freshman striker Mac Etienne (right knee) and sophomore quarterback Jaylen Clarke (concussion symptoms) in Los Angeles after he had previously lost freshman quarterback Will McClendon for the season to a knee injury. Although Clark is considered everyday, Etienne is still being evaluated and his return schedule is unknown.

The Bruins will open the season on Tuesday night at home against Cal State Bakersfield.

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