Well, this game sure has become a bit more anticlimactic.
Any positive momentum the UCLA Bruins had carried into the week was dashed completely on Thursday, when the Bruins arrived in Boulder only to get run out of the building by the Colorado Buffaloes. The listless, uninspired performance only served as a microcosm of what will go down as a lost season by most, with the only success being final decoupling of the program with former coach Steve Alford.
Still, the show must go on, and so the Bruins now head to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Utes. A top four seed in the Pac-12 Tournament is still, somehow, up for grabs, but the Bruins went from controlling their own destiny to needing plenty of help to accomplish that task. It also doesn’t help that the Utes have some positive momentum after turning back a spirited effort from Southern Cal on Thursday en route to a win that put them one step closer to a first round bye as well. Utah is currently sitting in a precarious position - a win and they clinch the 3rd seed, but a loss and they could be as low as #7.
Once again, on paper, this should be a close match-up. UCLA should have won the last meeting at Pauley Pavilion, but a furious late rally by the Utes led to a last-second shot that secured the comeback victory. The late loss showed the clear coaching gap that exists between Larry Krystkowiak and Murry Bartow, as Krystkowiak implemented a strategy that made almost half of the Bruins unplayable down the stretch and decimated whatever offense UCLA was running by intentionally fouling with over six minutes left, which secured extra possessions for the Utes, thanks to UCLA’s abysmal free throw shooting.
At the end of the day, UCLA fans should be thankful. This is the last regular season game of the season! Next week is the Pac-12 Tournament. Once that ends, this nightmare season will finally be over, barring some miracle. The finish line is in sight!