Skip to main content

Runnin' Utes Take #9 UCLA to the Wire in Near Loss

Jan 20, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's basketball fought valiantly to the bitter end against #9/9 UCLA Thursday night inside a raucous Jon M. Huntsman Center and nearly took down the Bruins in a near 63-58 loss without the services of big man Branden Carlson.
Freshman guard Lazar Stefanovic, who finished with a season-high 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range, led the Utes in scoring tonight while Both Gach added 11points, four rebounds and five assists with a pair of steals. Jaxon Brenchley, who was a spark for the Runnin' Utes off the bench, finished with eight points on 2-of-3 shooting – including 3-of-3 from the line.
UCLA got off to a hot start and jumped out to a 12-3 lead at the 15:44 media break on the heels of Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. The Runnin' Utes settled in not too long after and cut it to 15-11 at the 11:57 mark after Gach and Jaxon Brenchley went back-to-back from long range.

Gach then found a diving Brenchley down the middle of the lane as the junior drew contact and completed the and-1 to bring Utah (8-11, 1-8 Pac-12) within 15-14. Stefanovic then reeled off seven-consecutive points and gave the Runnin' Utes their first lead of the game 21-19 - which forced a Mick Cronin timeout with 7:36 left in the half.
Both teams then went back-and-forth the rest of the way before Riley Battin answered UCLA's 3-pointer with one of his own giving Utah the 32-31 edge heading into the break thanks to nice defensive stance on the other end.

A tightly contested second half saw seven lead changes and with six ties but none was more important than what transpired after UCLA (12-2, 4-1 Pac-12) knotted things up at 51-51 with 5:41 to go after an irate head coach for the Bruins called the timeout.
With the game tied up, Gach hit a huge three to give the Utes a 54-51 advantage. However, the veteran Bruin team rose to the occasion and reeled off seven-straight points to force a Utah timeout with 2:42 remaining. Stefanovic brought the Utes within 58-57 out of the break with another huge triple but UCLA's Juzang was tough to defend as the pre-season All-American pick knocked down two huge free throws to put the bad guys ahead 60-57.

Gach's drive to the rack on the next play put him at the stripe with 55 ticks left to play and went 1-of-2. Utah was able to get a stop on the defensive end but a costly turnover (charge) on the fast break saw UCLA seal the game hitting 3-of-4 from the free throw line but not before the Gabe Madsen and Stefanovic both had clean looks at the rim.
The Utes are now 2-3 all-time against a ranked UCLA team … Utes are now 2-2 all-time versus a #9 AP ranked team ... the three turnovers in the first half was the lowest since Utah had three against Manhattan … Utah finished with double-digit 3-pointers for the sixth time this season, the first since hitting 12 at Oregon State (12/30) … five assists for both ties a season-high, last had five at Oregon State … eight points is a new season-high for Jaxon Brenchley … fourth-straight game where Utah's bench has scored 28-plus points.
Utah will have another tough task ahead as it welcomes in #16/15 USC on Saturday, Jan. 22, for a 4:30 p.m. tip off inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center. Todd Harris and Don MacLean will have the call on Pac-12 Networks as the Runnin' Utes look to avenge their loss to the Trojans back in December while also honoring a trailblazer in the sport of basketball with an honored jersey ceremony for the late Wat Misaka at halftime.
For the latest news and information on the Runnin' Utes men's basketball program, fans can stay connected online at and on social media by following @UtahMBB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.