You can add a another Super Bowl appetizer to your menu today with the Utes taking on UCLA in Southern California. The Utes hope to figure out their road woes in conference play. They’re coming off of a tough loss to USC on Thursday, where they let it slip through their fingers. This is almost a must win game for the Utes, as they play for some post season hopes. UCLA is a very beatable team, even though they are skilled, and have some momentum coming off of a win against Colorado.
This is not an offensively skilled UCLA team, as they rank near the bottom of the conference in most categories. Where they do excel is offensive rebounding. This team actually is similar to USC in many ways, so the game plan needs to be the same for the Utes. Utah can’t allow easy transition baskets, and they need to box out and only allow UCLA one shot. If Utah plays the same ways they did against USC, game plan wise, but can be more efficient on offense, then they should walk away with the win. Tall task for this young squad, but it’s one they can pull off.
Here’s the scouting report for UCLA from UtahUtes.com
Sunday’s contest will be the 21st meeting between the two programs with UCLA under the direction of new head coach Mick Cronin.
When the two teams take the floor at Pauley Pavilion, it will be the 12th time the Runnin’ Utes have paid a visit to Westwood to battle the Bruins. In those 12 visits, the Utes are just 4-7 and 2-4 when playing in LA during conference action.
The Bruins are currently 11-10 on the year 4-4 in league play after toppling No. 20/21 Colorado, 72-68, on Thursday. UCLA nearly led wire-to-wire against the Buffs at home and at one point held a 15-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half.
Junior guard Chris Smith led the way for UCLA with a career-high 30 points and nine rebounds while Jamie Jaquez Jr. and Prince Ali each scored 13 points and 11 points, respectively. The Bruins took advantage of 13 offensive boards against the Buffs for an 18-10 edge in second-chance points. Additionaly, UCLA scored 22 of its points on fast break opportunities to Colorado’s 12 and beat CU in the battle of the glass 39-29.
Smith is the lone Bruin averaging in double-figures with 13.0 points and 5.4 rebounds to go with a .477 shooting clip. However, there is a logjam of four players all within a couple points of averaging in double-figures. Jalen Hill is just off the mark, checking with at 9.7 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game to go with his team-high 23 blocks. Jaquez Jr. is next on that list, averaging 8.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals while Ali is not too far behind him with 8.3 points per game.
Tyger Campbell, who had just three points against Colorado after getting injured last game at Oregon, is the team’s floor general. The 5-11 redshirt freshman has dished out 87 dimes this season while averaging 6.6 points for the Bruins.
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