June 19, 2024

No, he’s not Tyger Campbell. He doesn’t need to be.

His name is Dylan Andrews, and he’s starting to fully unleash his own array of talents.

Criticized for much of the season for not making shots, not leading his team and not even being a real point guard, Andrews is showing all the ways he can make UCLA better in his first season as a full-time starter.

Just when the Bruins were struggling to do much of anything on offense Thursday night at Pauley Pavilion with center Adem Bona on the bench in foul trouble, Andrews came up huge.

UCLA forward Adem Bona celebrates after a dunk against Oregon State on Thursday.

UCLA forward Adem Bona celebrates after a dunk against Oregon State on Thursday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

He hit a pull-up jumper. A three-pointer. A floating jumper.

The scoring barrage helped the Bruins hold off Oregon State’s comeback during a 71-63 victory while sustaining the best stretch of his college career.

Andrews finished with 18 points, two steals and three assists against only one turnover, a strong encore to his 20-point effort against rival USC last weekend. The sophomore guard celebrated by crashing Bona’s traditional postgame celebration huddle with team managers.

“He snuck into my huddle,” Bona said with a laugh.

Andrew’s across-the-board efforts helped the Bruins (10-11 overall, 5-5 Pac-12) sustain a late-season surge in which they have won two games in a row and four of five to remain in contention in the conference race.

“I just feel like right now we’re just really locked in and just, you know, we got a mission right now,” Andrews said. “So we’re gonna just keep using that to our best ability.”

Bona added 18 points and Lazar Stefanovic had 15 to help UCLA win a game in which it allowed the Beavers (11-10, 4-6) to shoot 51.1%. The Bruins won in part because they outrebounded the Beavers 36-25 and made the handful of shots they needed in the final minutes.

“We weren’t able to shut them out — obviously they shot a good percentage,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said, “but thankfully we dominated the backboard and we were plus-four in the turnover margin.”

UCLA guard Dylan Andrews puts up a one-handed jumper against Oregon State in the second half Thursday.

UCLA guard Dylan Andrews puts up a one-handed jumper against Oregon State in the second half Thursday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

After failing to get much separation from the opening tip, UCLA built a 51-43 advantage with 11 minutes left after Bruins center Aday Mara passed out of the post to Will McClendon for a three-pointer.

It was a similar story a few minutes later when Bona solved a double team near the basket by firing the ball to Stefanovic to put the Bruins up by seven points. But Bona soon found himself on the bench with four fouls and the Beavers pulled within 55-54 before Andrews put on his display of shot-making.

“When he plays well, we play well, we really get going,” Stefanovic said. “And toward the end, I don’t know exactly how much, but it seems like he scored every point down the stretch.”

UCLA held a 33-31 halftime lead despite allowing Oregon State to shoot 54.2%. It was more a matter of the Beavers staying hot than sloppy defense, a variety of circus shots and turnaround jumpers falling with regularity.

Oregon State forward Michael Rataj, right, tries to drive past UCLA guard Lazar Stefanovic.

Oregon State forward Michael Rataj, right, tries to drive past UCLA guard Lazar Stefanovic during the first half Thursday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

As it has for most of the season, UCLA ran its offense through Bona, whose success counteracting double teams has been a big part of his team’s midseason turnaround. Bona was practically unstoppable — with the exception of two needless fouls that eventually sent him to the bench — while making six of eight shots on the way to 14 points by halftime.

“When they double him, even if he doesn’t get the assist,” Cronin said, “he’s causing so much help that it’s getting us shots from other people.”

Some of the biggest cheers in the first half came amid a battle of giants. Mara, UCLA’s 7-foot-3 freshman, generated the noise when he blocked the shot of Oregon State’s 7-2 Chol Marial. It was revenge for Marial burying a three-pointer over Mara when the teams met earlier this season in Corvallis.

UCLA freshman forward Berke Buyuktuncel struggled in his return from a hand injury that forced him to miss the USC game, missing all six shots, and freshman guard Sebastian Mack was largely a nonfactor with five points and two assists after sustaining a toe injury against the Trojans that limited his availability in practice this week.

“It’s hard for a freshman to miss time and then come back,” Cronin said. “Older guys can do it, it’s really hard on a freshman. Both of those guys’ rhythm was definitely off.”

Cronin also detected something amiss about Andrews in the game’s early going, telling him at the first timeout that it’s hard to run an offense if you don’t get much out of your point guard. Andrews went on to deliver, continuing an evolution that is somewhat reminiscent of his predecessor.

“His pace, his decision-making and his pace really has improved the last two games,” Cronin said of Andrews. “It’s something Tyger Campbell was great at.”

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