Bruins Win Fourth Straight With 76-61 Victory at Utah
SALT LAKE CITY – Powered by a game-high 19 points from junior guard Jules Bernard, the UCLA men's basketball team posted its fourth win in a row on Thursday evening, notching a 76-61 victory over Utah at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Bernard made 7 of 10 shots from the field for UCLA (17-5, 13-3 Pac-12) and also shot 4-of-6 from 3-point distance. He was one of four Bruins to finish in double-figure scoring, along with Johnny Juzang (18 points, Cody Riley (15 points) and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (11 points).
The Bruins swept the regular-season series against Utah (9-11, 6-10 Pac-12), after having earned a 72-70 win over the Runnin' Utes in Los Angeles on Dec. 31.
"He played a great game," said UCLA head coach Mick Cronin of Bernard. "Jules is a guy when he takes his time, he can really shoot and then his strength comes into play. He gives us some athleticism and some toughness and some rebounding. We desperately need that with Chris Smith out. We need him in the lineup for athletic reasons and toughness reasons."
Bernard scored in double figures for the ninth time in 21 games this season. He has also recorded the highest minutes-per-game average (26.3) of his career this year and played a game-high 35 minutes on Thursday.
"I've said it a lot this season, we have a lot of weapons," said Bernard. "When we play together and play with confidence I feel like we are a very tough team to stop, especially when our defense is going like it was today."
Juzang made 4 of 6 attempts from 3-point range and grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds.
The Bruins held the Utes to just 45% shooting (26-for-58) and limited their top two offensive threats, Timmy Allen and Alfonso Plummer, to nine points and seven points, respectively. Allen headed into Thursday's game having averaged 17.3 points per game. Plummer had averaged 13.0 points per game.
Riley was another bright spot for UCLA on Thursday night. He had missed UCLA's game at USC on Saturday, Feb. 6, with an ankle injury and had continued to round back into form this month. Against the Runnin' Utes, he made 7 of 9 shots and tallied 15 points. His jump shot with 6:08 to play in the first half put UCLA ahead of Utah, 24-22. The Bruins led the contest the rest of the way.
"It's the first time he has been healthy in three weeks so it's huge for us," said Cronin on Riley. "He had bounce in his step yesterday, really the last couple of days. He blocked a shot on a run yesterday and I was like, 'oh, okay.' He hadn't even come close to doing anything like that in a couple weeks. Tonight was the closest he has been to 100% since the ankle injury. That was huge for us."
UCLA improved its record to 12-1 this season in games where the Bruins have limited their opponents to 70 points or fewer.
Utah did not shoot a free throw in the game. That marked just the second time in the past 40 years that UCLA's opponent had not attempted a free throw. Most recently, Delaware State didn't attempt any free throws in a game in Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 19, 2005.
UCLA will return to action at Colorado on Saturday, Feb. 27. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT (8 p.m. MT). The Bruins' game against the Buffaloes will be nationally televised on ESPN2, with Dave Feldman and Corey Williams calling the action.