LOS ANGELES — First, it was a perfectly executed pick-and-roll. Amari Bailey delivered a wrap-around bounce pass to Adem Bona, who slammed it home with two hands. A few plays later, Bailey drove baseline and flicked a dump-off pass to Bona for another dunk.
It was another small dose of what we’ve already seen from the 5-star recruit through a handful of games this season, but Wednesday night, UCLA fans got a heaping pre-Thanksgiving scoop of what Amari Bailey is capable of in the Bruins’ 100-53 nonconference blowout of Pepperdine at Pauley Pavilion.
On the heels of scoring just six total points in two losses in Las Vegas over the weekend, Bailey’s comfort level was apparent back at home, as he turned in a career-high 19 points (including three 3-pointers) to go with four assists and three rebounds in 25 minutes.
UCLA (4-2) put together a 19-2 run in the first half after trailing 14-12 after a Houston Mallette corner 3-pointer. Bailey made back-to-back 3-pointers just before halftime to give UCLA a 43-29 lead at the break.
Bailey opened the second half with a half-court alley-oop pass to Bona before making a turnaround jumper on the next possession. He was feeling it.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting and eight rebounds in 28 minutes. Jaylen Clark added 12 points, six rebounds and two steals, David Singleton had 13 points and Tyger Campbell and Adem Bona each scored 11.
UCLA shot 55% from the field and 50% from 3-point range.
Bailey scored just one point in UCLA’s 89-80 loss to Illinois, going 0 for 5 from the field. He then scored five points, going 2 for 5 in Sunday’s 80-75 loss to Baylor in 28 and 20 minutes played, respectively. The numbers were well under his 11.6-point average heading into the weekend, but perhaps most concerning was his drop in aggression.
That was not an issue Wednesday, which is a testament to his competitive spirit.
A Jaquez free throw gave UCLA a 72-42 lead at the 10:38-mark in the second half. The Bruins’ lead grew to as many as 41 points (88-47) with 5:37 left.
Pepperdine (4-2) was led by Mallette (13 points, eight rebounds). Jan Zidek, the son of former UCLA big man George Zidek, who played on UCLA’s 1995 national championship team, also had 13 points. Maxwell Lewis added 10 points for the Waves.
More to come on this story.