The Bruins took on the Utah Utes on Saturday after stomping on a depleted Colorado team 92-74 earlier in the week. The Utes came into the game having already beaten the Bruins once on the road 71-67 on the road in the middle of January. With Arizona State's upset of #2 Arizona and UC Berkeley's win over Washington, the Bruins needed a win to retain their stand-alone hold on 2nd place in the Pac-12.
Utah opened the scoring with a pair of 3-pointers and a made free throw that were answered by a putback by David Wear and Norman Powell making 2 foul shots. Travis Wear drained a 3-pointer of his own to knot the score up a 7-7 before Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson both got steals on back-to-back possessions and converted fast break layups to put the Bruins ahead 11-7 into the first TV timeout.
Out of the timeout, a nice pass from Travis Wear to Jordan Adams pushed the lead to 6 before Utah answered back with an easy layup to make it 13-9 before Zack LaVine and Bryce Alford entered the game as the first team group of the bench.
LaVine continued his poor shooting in February and worse shot selection by launching a long, contested three and missing long. There was a scoreless stretch of about 3 minutes when the bench guys came into the game before anice defensive possession was taken apart as Princeton Onwas drained a long 3 to make it a 13-12 game at the second timeout.
UCLA's personal 4-minute scoring drought was finally ended on a 3-pointer by Bryce Alford, continuing his great shooting weekend early on. Some back-and-forth scoring ensued as Anderson made a layup, Dakarai Tucker made a 3-pointer, Adams made a jump shot, Dallin Bachynski made a free throw before Kyle Anderson turned the ball over and Utah converted a layup.
Norman Powell and Brandon Taylor traded 3-pointers to make the score 23-21 in favor of UCLA at the 7 minute mark in the half.
UCLA then missed their next 6 shots and Utah missed a few of their own. The entire bench squad was remarkably ineffective, apparently Tony Parker played but I don't remember him being on the court in the first half, LaVine looked as lost on offense as he's ever looked, and after the three-pointer Alford missed two 3-pointers and turned it over twice.
Utah's Brandon Taylor made a layup to tie the game at 23 before Jordan Adams made a 3-pointer off of a nice pass from Bryce Alford to regain a 3-point edge with 3 minutes left in the first half.
After the timeout, Delon Wright, Utah's leading scorer, made two free throws for his first 2 points of the contest. Adams answered back with his 2nd 3-pointer of the half. A pair of buckets for a driving Norman Powell, a pair of buckets by Renan Lenz and a flashy put-back dunk by Wright ended the half with the score 33-31 in favor of the Bruins.
Jordan Adams (12 points on 5-8) and Norman Powell (9 points on 3-5) carried UCLA in the first half, though Kyle Anderson stayed filling up the stat sheet with 4 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
UCLA came out hot in the 2nd half and Utah came out ice cold. Adams opened the 2nd half scoring, draining a jumper from the right wing to push the UCLA lead to 35-31. David Wear then scored off of a nice drive-and-kick assist by Anderson, then took a charge on the other end, then on Utah's next possession came up with a steal after Adams knocked the ball away. Travis Wear got in on the action, making his 2nd 3-pointer and pushing the lead to 9 at 40-31 into the first TV timeout of the 2nd half.
The big run kept on going as Powell and Adams converted a fast break off of a rebound by Powell on a layup where Adams slipped between two Utes to get to the rim and converting the free throw to finish the And-1.
Powell answered with a steal and huge dunk of his own and make the run 12-0 before Utah scored on a jumper that bounced around the rim. A transition dunk by Anderson made the score 47-33.
The bench unit came in as Utah made a pair of free throws and, unlike the first half, the Bruins kept on scoring with back-to-back jumpers by Anderson and Adams converting on another 3-point shot to get to 20 points on the day.
The 25-11 run in the first 10 minutes of the 2nd half basically clinched the game for the Bruins.
In the last 10 minutes, it should have been stat-padding time for the Bruins. But the defense got lazy as Delon Wright went on a run, scoring 5 straight for the Utes and the Utes kept pushing and closed the lead to just 11 points at 66-55 with 4 minutes left.
Back-to-back buckets by Travis Wear on a putback and a dunk by Tony Parker off of a blocked shot by Travis put the final nail in the coffin of this game at 70-55 with 3:28 to go.
Utah went on a 4-0 to get it back to an 11-point game but there was too big of a gap to close in too short a period of time.
Norman Powell closed it out with a huge dunk over Bachynski to make it 74-61 with just over a minute left. Some back-and-forth wrapped up the game and the final score was 80-66.
Jordan Adams was the headline, scoring 24 on 10-14 shooting and adding 4 steals as well. Kyle Anderson was near triple-double as always, scoring 16, getting 10 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists. Norman Powell had a nice game with 13 and 5 boards with a pair of huge dunks.
The bench group was basically non-existent outside of a few nice plays by Bryce Alford and one huge blocked shot and a dunk by Parker. LaVine scored his first points of the game on an uncontested layup with 39 seconds left in the game, but looked borderline terrible whenever he was on the court.
UCLA gets to 20 wins, stays in 2nd place in the Pac-12 and moves to 9-3 in Pac-12, just one game (two games, really due to the loss earlier) behind Arizona for the lead in the Pac-12.
This team is talented enough to win out and sneak into a 4-seed in the tournament, but is the coaching good enough to match the talent? We will have to see.