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Utes come up short against No. 9 Bruins - A Game Thread & Recap

Instant Analysis and Reaction and Final Thoughts

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Utah Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Game Notes:

It has been a tough stretch for the Running Utes. Utah finds itself on a 6 game losing streak after narrowly losing to Arizona State in Tempe after the Sun Devils hit a shot with 4.6 seconds remaining. The game was tight the entire time as the largest lead the whole game was only 6 points. The Utes were once again plagued by turnovers as well as long periods without a field goal. The last two games have been promising for Utah as they have played tougher defense and our offense has attempted to drive to the paint far more often leading to easier baskets or trips to the free-throw line (the Utes are #7 in the nation in free-throw shooting as a team). This is the first of two home games against the LA schools which will be extremely tough contests for a Utah team still without Branden Carlson (recovering from appendicitis). The Utes come into the game with an 8-10 record overall and 1-7 in conference play. UCLA comes to the Huntsman Center as the #9 team in the country and an 11-2 record overall and 3-1 in conference play. UCLA is coming off an 81-65 home win against the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday night. UCLA is led by Guard Johnny Juzang who is averaging 17.2 points per game. The Utes will need to play perfectly on both sides of the ball to compete with UCLA. Let’s pack the Huntsman and show some support for this team!

When: Thursday, January 20 at 9 pm MT

Where: Salt Lake City, UT - Jon M. Huntsman Center

How to watch: FS1

First Half:

16:00- Tough start for Utah as they go nearly the first 3 minutes without a basket before Marco Anthony hits a 3. Johnny Juzang with 8 points for UCLA as the Bruins jump out to a 12-3 lead and are shooting 80% to start the game. Meanwhile, the Utes are shooting 20%, our defense has to start contesting shots to make it a little harder on UCLA or this is going to be a long night.

12:00- Utah’s offense stepping up tonight as the Utes have hit 3-4 from 3 point range and trail UCLA 15-11. The Utes have to be wary of Johny Juzang who already has 11 points for the Bruins. Jaxon Brenchley and Both Gach hitting big 3’s for the Utes to get them back in the game. The Utes have been better defensively and rebounding and can hopefully continue to cut into the lead.

8:00- Incredible stretch by the Utes. The Utes have their first lead of the night 21-19. Utah’s defense is flying to the basketball and contesting every shot and the offense is being extremely aggressive and knocking down some big outside shots. The Utes are 4-7 from 3 point range for 57.1%. Another positive sign is that the Utes have only turned it over once. After a blistering start, UCLA has struggled to find any open shots and is shooting 37.5%.

3:00- Things have really picked up physically between these two teams as UCLA is trying to use their size in the paint to get to the basket and the Utes are not making it easy. The game is tied 27-27. UCLA is outrebounding the Utes 19-11 so the lack of depth in the paint will be a big story as the game continues. Utah is playing with a lot of energy on both sides of the ball. Let’s get the lead before the half Utes!

0:00- YES!! Utah leads UCLA 32-31 at the half. After the first 4 minutes, it looked like UCLA might run away this game after they jumped out to a 12-3 lead. However, the Utes defense began flying to the basketball and contesting every UCLA shot. The Utes will have to limit Johnny Juzang who leads all scorers with 18 points, we can’t let him beat us in the second half. The Utes are led by Lazar Stefanovic with 9 points but the real story has been an incredible effort from the Ute’s bench as they have outscored the Bruin’s bench 17-2. The Utes have also only turned the ball over 3 times in the first half. The Utes need to continue to pound the glass and be extremely physical in the second half. It’s clear that Utah is desperate to end their 6 game losing streak. Let’s get the upset Utah!

Second Half:

16:00- Game all tied at 37-37. Stefanovic came to play tonight as he hits another big 3 and leads the Utes with 12 points. UCLA has a greater sense of urgency in the second half as they began a light full-court press and the Utes have had two quick turnovers to start the second half. The Utes need to take care of the basketball as turnovers have plagued them all season.

12:00- The Utes go over 4 minutes without a made field goal but thanks to their tenacious defense they lead the Bruins 43-42. The Utes and Craig Smith are beyond fired up by the effort from every Utah player. The Utes are showing so much heart and fight against the #9 ranked Bruins and they have responded so far every time UCLA has threatened to make a run. This is a critical time in the game especially since the last few games the Utes have gone on a scoring drought around this time in the game. Critical few minutes for the Utes.

9:00- TImeout UCLA has the Utes have gone on a 7-0 scoring run in the last 3 minutes. Utah with their largest lead at 46-42. Even when it has appeared that UCLA has an easy layup someone comes out of nowhere for Utah to contest the shot and force a miss. Unbelievable!

7:00- UCLA stepping up as Juzang hits a big shot and the momentum quickly turns in UCLA’s favor. The Bruins lead 48-46. Utah missed a golden opportunity on a lob to Lahat Thioune which resulted in a tie-up and UCLA taking the lead on the other end. Really tight game in SLC tonight. Get after it Utes!

6:00- Back and forth we go as UCLA was up by 4 at 50-46 before Both Gach hits a big shot followed by Gabe Madsen draining a 3 to give the Utes a 51-50 lead.

3:00- This is too much to handle right now. Both teams trade a few baskets before UCLA hits a few clutch shots and the Bruins lead 58-54. The Utes really need to answer now; Stefanovic and Gach are the most likely targets on this next possession. Dig deep!

Final Thoughts:

Does anybody else feel like they were just punched multiple times in the stomach? That was a brutal end to the game. The Utes were within one before a controversial foul on Marco Anthony and Juzang hit both free throws to put the Bruins up by 3. Moments later, the Utes had the ball down 3 and Stefanovic had a good look at the basket but just couldn’t knock it down and Utah loses to UCLA 63-58. The Utes appeared as though they may get blown out after the first few minutes of the game but then took the lead (32-31) going into halftime. The Bruins, however, were just too much down the stretch as they always managed to hit a clutch shot to extend their lead just enough to get past Utah. The Utes were 11-26 (42.3%) from 3 point range which was a big shift in their tendency to get to the paint in the last couple of games. The Bruins got to the free-throw line 29 times in the game compared to 14 for Utah. The Utes played tough defense all night and again despite the loss held their own against the #9 team in the country. You have to wonder what difference Branden Carlson would have been in a game like this. The Utes will not have long to regroup as they face the #16 USC Trojans this Saturday night.

Next Up: Utah vs #16 USC Trojans on Saturday, January 22 at 4:30 pm MT on the PAC 12 Network