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.
Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.
With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.
“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”
Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.
While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.
LSU football and Leonard Fournette are off to a strong start this fall, but the beginning of October also means that college hoops is right around the corner. If you’re a Tigers basketball fan, you also have plenty to be excited about on the hardwood this season with the arrival of a loaded freshman class headlined by forward Ben Simmons.
While the versatile Simmons has solidified a spot in the starting lineup for next season, it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Johnny Jones uses the rest of his talented freshmen. In a story from Sheldon Mickles of the New Orleans Advocate, he looks into some potential LSU starting lineups.
Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney, a McDonald’s All-American with Simmons, is also expected to start, but does another talented freshman guard, Brandon Sampson get a shot to start? And what of Arizona transfer Craig Victor when he’s eligible to play in December?
Mickles believes the early favorite for starting lineup is guards Tim Quarterman, Keith Hornsby, Blakeney, Simmons and center Darcy Malone. When Victor returns, Mickles said Victor could push Simmons into the “center” position, which would be a matchup nightmare on the opposition because Simmons would be very tough for many college centers to defend.
Sampson also gets a mention from Mickles of having the potential to start down the line. Overall, a good problem to have for Jones and he’ll have to experiment to see which lineups are giving him the most. Having a productive starting five is nice, but I’m sure Jones would love to find the five players he wants to close with.