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.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
- Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
- Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
- Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
- No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
- No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.
And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.
The rest of the top 10?
They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: