Runnin’ Utes Finish Up Regular Season with Win Over UCLA Bruins

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Runnin’ Utes Finish Up Regular Season with Win Over UCLA Bruins

University of Utah freshman forward Both Gach (11) makes a slam dunk during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the USC Trojans at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

University of Utah freshman forward Both Gach (11) makes a slam dunk during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the USC Trojans at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Kiffer Creveling

University of Utah freshman forward Both Gach (11) makes a slam dunk during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the USC Trojans at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Kiffer Creveling

Kiffer Creveling

University of Utah freshman forward Both Gach (11) makes a slam dunk during an NCAA Basketball game vs. the USC Trojans at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, March 7, 2019. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Tony Kar

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The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes finished up their 2018-2019 Regular Season with a 92-81 win on their home-court against the UCLA Bruins. Utah finished with an overall record of 17-13, while their record against Pac-12 opponents has improved to 11-7. Meanwhile, UCLA fell to a disappointing 16-15 overall record, 9-9 in conference play.

In the first half, the Utes dominated on both ends of the ball. They scored 51 points while holding UCLA to only 31 points. Despite UCLA opening up the game with the first basket made, Utah took a double-digit lead within the first few minutes of the game. The Utes would lead by as many as 27 points in the first half. Entering halftime, the Runnin’ Utes were sitting comfortably, leading by 20 points.

It was a somewhat different story in the second half, as the Bruins were able to pick up the slack and close the scoring gap. They made a run for it and made sure to give a competitive game to the Utes, despite the score. UCLA trailed by as little as seven points in the second half, but with this being senior night, the entire team, especially the seniors, felt motivated to put the Bruins away.

Seniors Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke were among the stand out graduating players, as Barefield posted 29 points, on 11/22 shooting. Van Dyke managed to also chip in 12 points, knocking down four shots from behind the arc. Promising freshman Timmy Allen contributed in a big way, putting up 17 points of his own. Donnie Tillman joined in as well, as he scored in the double digits with 14 points.

It was clear that the Runnin’ Utes were clicking on all cylinders this game, and their offense was to not be overlooked. Utah shot 45.6 percent overall from the field while managing to shoot an impressive 44.7 percent from behind the arc. The Utes drained 17 shots from the three-point line, tying the school record that they had set earlier this season against Mississippi Valley State. If the Utes are able to orchestrate their offense and dictate the game, this team will be a dangerous opponent during the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament.

Not only did the Utes shoot well from the field but they also took care of the ball efficiently. They turned the ball over just five times throughout the game, as that resulted in only six UCLA points. With Utah limiting their turnovers and playing smart basketball, they were able to play defense effectively as well. Regardless of what a team’s identity is, limiting turnover is the key to winning any basketball game, which is exactly what the Utes did against the Bruins.

Utah finished up their regular season and finished with an 11-7 record in Pac-12 play. This set them up to be the 3-seed in the tournament, and they will be rewarded with a first-round bye next week. The Utes will play the winner of the No. 6 seed Oregon and No. 11 seed Washington State match-up on Thursday, March 14 at 8:30 p.m. PT at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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