The Runnin’ Utes picked up a much needed win, as they defeated the USC Trojans 77-70, which has improved their overall record to 12-10 and league play record to 6-4.
Freshman Both Gach led the way with scoring 15 points, while Jayce Johnson was able to chip his third double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and grabbing a team-high 13 rebounds in the game.
In the first half, Utah dominated on both ends of the floor. Gach scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half, as he was able to provide consistent offense throughout. Donnie Tillman also helped in the half and was able to score two three point shots and help guide the Utes to a 37-23 lead entering halftime.
Utah shot 43.8 percent overall from the field in the first half, but shot an outstanding 40 percent from behind the arc. While playing great offense throughout, they played just as good on the defensive end, limiting USC to just 35.7 percent overall from the field and a poor 20 percent from behind the arc.
After three pointers from Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke, Utah took a huge lead in the second half, 56-33. Just like in many games this season, the Utes were unable to hold on to the lead comfortably and the Trojans were able to go on a 11-2 run to narrow the deficit.
USC was able to get within single digits after going on a 10-0 run, but luckily from the Utes, they were able to secure their win by just a few baskets. Free throws from Gach and Tillman, and a clutch three point shot from Van Dyke, was prove to be too much for the Trojans to handle.
Despite another run from USC late, they fell to the Utes, as this was a huge game for Utah this season. This is USC’s first home-loss to a Pac-12 foe this season and Utah was able to snap their two-game losing streak. This could be the turning point of the season for the Utes, since it will be essential to start a winning-streak now in the midst of the season.
Utah will wrap up their SoCal trip at UCLA on Saturday, Feb. 9. UCLA has been struggling this entire season and this is easily one of the worst seasons this program has had in recent memory. The Bruins have lost their last five of seven games and have failed to find consistency throughout. Their most recent loss came at home against the Colorado Buffaloes.
Bruins Guard Jaylen Hands is definitely someone to look out for. Hands is a very streaky player, but when he gets it going, he can make his opponents pay with his explosive offense. He has the ability to move around freely against many defensive schemes and can facilitate the ball and make his teammates better.
The teams are set to tip off at 3 P.M. MT at the Pauley Pavilion.