An 11-0 run by UCLA (13-4 overall, 4-1 Pac-12) to open up the game against the University of Utah men’s basketball team (10-6 overall, 2-3 Pac-12) set the tone for the remainder of the night as Utah lost 83-64 in Pauley Pavilion.
The Runnin’ Utes, who were without Donnie Tillman and Jayce Johnson, continued to try to come from behind as a bucket from Tyler Rawson finally got Utah on the board, but the Utes trailed the rest of the way. Chris Seeley brought the game within three points thanks to a dunk, but UCLA continued to pile on the points. At the half, Utah trailed 41-33.
“We didn’t play good enough defense to start the game. They got too many open shots,” said the director of basketball operations Chris Jones on ESPN700. “They’re a great offensive team. It was like we were a little stunned to start the game with their ability to make shots.”
David Collette and Justin Bibbins were the only Utes to finish in double-digit scoring. Collette led the way with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and he was 1-of-1 from downtown. Bibbins went 4-of-10 from the field for 12 points as all of his made shots were 3-pointers. As a team, Utah shot 26.9 percent from the 3-point line compared to UCLA’s 52.2 percent. Jones felt that most of the 3-pointers Utah took were solid shots, pointing out that Rawson and Sedrick Barefield had good looks, they just didn’t go in as Rawson and Barefield went 0-for-8. He said the Utes have to shoot open 3-pointers when it has the chance.
“Sometimes basketball is a make and miss game,” Jones said on ESPN700. “They made, we missed and that was it.”
Although the Runnin’ Utes cut their deficit to eight points at the start of the second half, Utah had two turnovers less than three minutes apart as UCLA took advantage to up by 12 points. The Bruins’ shots continued to fall and they went on a 9-2 run followed by an 8-0 run. Their largest lead came with 3:07 to play when they held a 21-point advantage. The Bruins went on to pull away with a 21-point edge two more times before Christian Popoola scored on a layup to end the contest. Utah had no answer for the UCLA offense that shot 51.8 percent from the field as the Utes were held to shooting 46.2 percent.
Chris Seeley saw extended playing time for the first time this season since he underwent gallbladder surgery in November. He played 19 minutes, and he finished with a career-high nine points after coming off the bench. He said for the Utah defense it was more personal issues that were causing it to struggle.
“We didn’t really do what we needed to do guarding the perimeter,” Seeley said on ESPN700. “[We] didn’t guard the ball as well as we needed to, as well as boxing out here and there on offensive boards.”
The defeat marks Utah’s third loss in a row. The Runnin’ Utes will look to straighten things out as they continue their road trip on Sunday, Jan. 14 with a visit to USC at 6 p.m.
“We just got to flip the switch. We got to play harder. We got to make sure we know what we got to do,” Seeley said on ESPN700. “I think it takes more paying attention to detail when going over film and their plays and stuff. We just got to make sure we got all that down.”