A comeback for the ages, that sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it? That’s what had to happen for the Utes Saturday afternoon to complete the Southern California road sweep over UCLA. After trailing by as many as 22 points in the 2nd half, and looking unable to defend a chair, the Utes rallied to top UCLA 93-92 on a Parker Van Dyke buzzer beating three.
The Utes really, really struggled for about the first 35 minutes of the game. They couldn’t get any stops in the first half, allowing UCLA to shoot 65%. They ended up trailing by 17 at half. The offense, when they weren’t turning over the ball, was actually getting really good looks at the basket, but they had too many turnovers in that opening half. On the defensive side of the ball it was lob after lob, and open shot after open shot for the Bruins.
Coach K said in the post game that really no adjustments were needed, they just needed to play harder, which on defense is usually a major key. In the second half, they did open with a quick run to cut the lead to 11 points, but UCLA countered quickly to push the lead to 20+. At around the 13 minute mark, the Utes started to chip away. They got a few stops, I mean not many since they surrendered 92 points, but enough to start chipping away. A couple of guys really started to catch fire too, including Timmy Allen, who had 22 points, Riley Battin, who had 18, and of course Sedrick Barefield, who had 19. Barefield draws so much attention, that Battin and Parker Van Dyke, who had 15 points, most of which in the second half, were get some great looks. Both Gach was also critical down the stretch, hitting two giant threes, including the one that brought the Utes to within a possession.
On that final possession with five seconds remaining, after another missed free throw by UCLA, Barefield took the ball from PVD on the inbounds pass, while PVD trailed him up the floor. As Sed approached the three point line, UCLA converged on him aggressively, and he kicked it back to PVD for about a 30-footer, similar to the shot he missed against Arizona. This time, however, he nailed the shot as the clock hit zero.
The Utes are on a roll on the road, now if they could just carry that to the Huntsman Center. This is the second straight home sweep by the Utes, and they have now swept the California schools on the road. They also find themselves tied for second in the Pac-12, and are positioning themselves nicely as we get into the return games to make the run to the Pac-12 tournament.
Next up for the Utes are the Arizona schools at home.