Sac State men’s basketball drops season opener to #8 UCLA 76-50

Bruins star-studded offense too much to handle for Hornets


The Daily Bruin/Jack Stenzel

Senior guard Zach Chappell and junior forward Akol Mawein trapping freshman UCLA guard Amari Bailey Monday, Nov. 8, 2022, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. The Hornets were dismantled 76-50 in their season opener against the #8 UCLA Bruins Monday night at Pauley Pavilion.

Jordan Latimore

The score is the score, but there is always so much more to a game.

The Sac State men’s basketball team learned that lesson the hard way in their season opener with #8 UCLA Monday at Pauley Pavilion. The Hornets showed a hopeful glimpse of what they could become in a seismic 76-50 loss to the top-ten-ranked Bruins.

“We have enough ingredients [on this team] to be able to compete with most teams, I think, in the country,” head coach David Patrick said.  

The game opened up with the Hornets looking to punch the Bruins in the mouth early, getting out to a 7-6 lead four minutes into the first half. Sac State kept it simple, running everything through senior center Callum McRae.

Whether it was a high pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop handoffs in the high post, McRae was running the show in the half-court to set up his teammates, with senior guard Zach Chappell feeding off of the action early on.  

I’m happy that my teammates and coaches trust me to be this involved and have the ball in my hands,” McRae said. “With that comes a duty to look after the ball and find others.”

Chappell, who finished with 7 points in the first half, leaned on McRae’s screens to set him up for open looks. This half-court dynamic is one to keep an eye on going forward this season.

Despite the sucker-punch start from Sac State, the Bruins quickly reminded the crowd why they’re a national powerhouse — they are loaded with talent. 

Just past the nine-minute mark, UCLA erupted on an 18-0 run ignited by senior guard Tyger Campbell, who was getting whatever he wanted in the half-court. Campbell put on a shooting clinic, finishing with 9 first-half points on mostly mid-range jumpers.

“We proved for at least 15 minutes we could play with them,” Patrick said. “And then, obviously we had slippage there when they went on a [18-0] run. That’s somewhere obviously we gotta get better at.”

Once the Bruin offense started drizzling, it all became too difficult of a storm for the Sac State defense to handle. UCLA dominated for the remaining 30 minutes, with five Bruins finishing in double-figures,  

The outcome was largely expected, yet a lot of what the Hornets were able to show in Los Angeles Monday night will not go to waste.

Despite being down 24 points at halftime, the Hornets showed resilience, winning the first-half rebounding battle 20-14. 

“We’ll be fine; we just gonna take these growing pains and learn from them,” Chappell said. “UCLA is a great rebounding team every year and for us to beat them on the glass, that’s great for us moving forward.”

The Hornets also witnessed the true potential of their half-court offense with McRae’s ability to pass and kick out to guys like Chappell and sophomore wing Austin Patterson, who finished with four points.

“There’s a trust there,” Patrick said about McRae’s role on offense. “I’ve had him before and coached him before and kind of knows what’s expected.” 

Sac State will build on the glimpse everyone saw Monday night. The only question is how long this team will take to assemble its continuity.

“We as a team, and especially me as an older guy, need to be better and execute our game plan better,” McRae said. “We will learn from tonight, make adjustments and look toward our next game on Saturday.”

The Hornet’s next matchup will be against UC San Diego at LionTree Arena Nov. 12 at 7:00 p.m.