Utah Basketball Returns Home, Hosts UCLA Thursday
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's basketball team returns home to the friendly confines of the Jon M. Huntsman Center this week as it entertains UCLA this Thursday, Feb. 25, for a 6 p.m. (MT) tip-off on Pac-12 Networks.
Guy Haberman and Mike Montgomery will have the call between the Runnin' Utes and Bruins this Thursday as Utah looks split the season series against UCLA after dropping nailbiter in Los Angeles, 72-70, back on Dec. 31.
SCOUTING THE BRUINS
Winners of their last three, UCLA heads to Salt Lake City with a 16-5 overall record and 12-3 mark in Pac-12 action after narrowly beating Arizona State 80-79 this past Saturday after going 3-of-4 from the line in the final minute.
The last time these two teams squared off, Utah got off to a torrid start before going on a scoring lull that it eventually came out of in the second half. The Bruins lead got as high as 10 points at the 17:06 mark in the second frame when Jules Bernard hit a 3-pointer to make it 47-37 in favor of the home team. The Utes fought as hard as they could and at one point took a 60-57 lead with 6:38 to go on a lay-up from Mikael Jantunen on the feed from Timmy Allen. However, the Bruins regained the lead and kept the Utes within arms distance with a one or two possession lead the rest of the way. With five seconds left to go, Alfonso Plummer was able to draw a foul beyond the arc against Jalen Hill. Down 71-68, Plummer missed his first free throw before knocking the next two to bring the Utes within 71-70. After Hill hit 1-of-2 from the line, a turnover by the Utes at the 28-foot line saw UCLA sneak away with the 72-70 win.
Johnny Juzang has emerged as a lethal weapon for UCLA, averaging 13.8 points with a 4.2 rebounding average while knocking down a team-high 32 triples. Jaime Jaquez Jr. is averaging 12.0 points and 6.2 rebounds – which is a team-high – also leads the squad with 27 steals. Tyger Campbell is averaging 11.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 5.7 assists to go with 25 steals as the team's floor general. Cody Riley rounds out the list of Bruins in double-figures, averaging 10.3 points and 5.5 rebounds with a .545 shooting clip. Bernard is close to averaging in double-digits, checking in with 9.1 points per game with a 4.6 rebounding average. Hill is just averaging 6.5 points but is posting 5.9 boards per game with a team-high .556 shooting clip.
LAST TIME OUT
Once again, Utah had a great game against the Oregon Ducks but it was late game execution that tripped up the Utes this time around. Both teams were unable to assemble a lead more than five points throughout the game. In addition, there were 19 lead changes while the game was tied nine times. Tied with 1:36 left to play, a missed shot and two turnovers later saw the Utes fall 67-64 in Eugene.
Utah had four players in double-figures led by Alfonso Plummer's 17 points while Timmy Allen added 15 points. Branden Carlson was a rebound short of his third double-double, posting 13 points on nine rebounds. Pelle Larsson stuffed the stat sheet, posting 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists against the Ducks.
Utah will host its second ranked opponent this season at home when it welcomes in #19/18 USC on Saturday, Feb. 27, for a 6 p.m. tip-off. The contest between the Runnin' Utes and Trojans will air on either ESPN2 or ESPNU.
The Utes will wrap up their four-game homestand the following week as it welcomes in Oregon State on Wednesday, March 3, for a 5 p.m. (MT) tip-off on ESPN2 or ESPNU. Utah will then play the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday, March 6. Time and TV network is still to be determined for that game.