Ute is wasted by the young — #11 Utah comes into to Pauley overconfident (after having beaten UCLA by 32 three weeks ago), and gets out-played, out-hustled, out-muscled, and outscored 69-59 by the youthful Bruins, who came in 0-4 against Ranked teams, having lost those by about 20 a game
UCLA is a different team at home, especially when they are at full strength. Last weekend in Oregon, playing without an injured Tony Parker, the Bruins got swept pretty easily by the Beavers and Ducks. After that lackluster showing, very few people thought that the Bruins could compete with the #11 team in the Country, especially considering that that team beat UCLA 71-39 25 days ago.
But right from the outset on Thursday night in Westwood, the Bruins showed that they have come a long way in 3 weeks. With Tony Parker back at Starting Center, the Bruins were tough inside, forcing Utah out of their comfort zone. And even when Parker went to the bench, a continually-improving Thomas Welsh came in and took it to the Utes. Welsh has been accused of being too soft, but he is responding. He had two monster dunks, and helped the Bruins build a 15-point lead in the second half.
Bryce Alford ran the Offense by dishing out 7 Assists, while also scoring 14 points. He took a few bad outside shots early in the clock, as did Norman Powell, but when the Bruins settled in and ran their Offense, they were successful. Powell was the undisputed leader, scoring 23, mostly on nifty drives to the hoop. Powell’s production is pretty consistent — but it was Isaac Hamilton’s upsurge in production that might have made the difference in this game. Hamilton, who came in in a 1-for-17 slump, scored 11 points, and had a great stretch while the Bruins were on a run, that included a great rebound/driving bank shot, AND ONE, and then a three-point shot. Rarely used reserve Noah Allen also contributed, with a great putback bucket, AND ONE, in the first half that might have been his best play of the year.
The Bruin Defense should not be dismissed: For the last 2 minutes of the first half and the first 7 of the second half, they held Utah SCORELESS. Sure, Utah was having an off night, but the Bruin Defense forced 14 Turnovers, and forced them to take bad shots. Even Bruin Killer Jakob Poeltl was held in check. He hit all 4 of his attempts, but that was it — just 8 points. He might have been injured, as he played only 25 minutes, and was on the bench at a crucial point where they could have really used him.
With this loss, Utah has still not won AT UCLA since 1961. That’s 54 years! Talk about a drought. I know Utah is a dry state, but that’s ridiculous. Of course Utah will probably have the last laugh, as they are still practically guaranteed a spot in the Big Dance, while the Bruins will be lucky to even be on the bubble. But this SIGNATURE WIN over the Utes will certainly help if the Bruins do find themselves in the conversation in early March.
This win should also do wonders for the Bruins’ confidence. Now they know they can go toe-to-toe with the best in the West, and should be able to handle Colorado at home on Saturday night. The Buffaloes won on Thursday night, but it took them three overtimes to overcome lowly u$c. Poor trojans — what a heartbreaking way to lose… for the 7th time in their last 8 games. And now they will face an angry Utah team. That game shouldn’t be pretty for the 17 trojan fans who will be in attendance.
But you know what IS pretty? That’s right: Our beloved UCLA Spirit Squad girls. So here are another 22 shots to prove it.