Jan 18, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT
Utah led by 10 at halftime and had a 15-point lead on UCLA with 12 minutes left but held on to defeat the Bruins 74-69 on Saturday in a big Pac-12 conference home win for the Utes.
Sophomore Kyle Anderson’s brilliant performance helped bring UCLA back within two points at 71-69 with 22 seconds left, but Utah closed the game out at the free throw line and Anderson’s errant pass with 11 seconds left led to a Bruin turnover and sealed the deal. Anderson finished with a career-high 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for No. 25 UCLA.
Balanced scoring was a key for Utah (14-4, 3-3) as the Utes moved to .500 in Pac-12 play. Utah’s three Pac-12 losses have come by a combined seven total points, but thanks to double-figure scoring from four players, the Utes led UCLA for nearly the entire game.
Jordan Loveridge (17 points, nine rebounds) and Delon Wright (12 points, eight rebounds, six assists) can usually be counted on to score consistently for Utah, but with a steady 12 points from Brandon Taylor and 12 additional points off the bench from forward Kenneth Ogbe, Utah jumped out to an early lead that they never let go.
Utah is going to be a tough out in the Pac-12 when they’re at home, as they’ve only lost in overtime, by two points, to Oregon earlier this season. With the Pac-12 being so open besides Arizona at the top, could Utah make a run at a NCAA Tournament birth?
They Utes will need more balanced scoring, but they’re a tough out at home, and with a few solid road wins could turn into a surprise team making a run towards the postseason.
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