Runnin’ Utes Set to Resume Conference Play Against UCLA


University of Utah men’s basketball players in the Utes’ win against Utah Valley on Dec. 15, 2020 in the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Sports Editor


The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes are back in action this week as they are set to take on the UCLA Bruins on Thursday. The teams are coming off nearly a two-week break as each squad’s last matchup was postponed to a later date because of positive COVID-19 cases.

 The Runnin’ Utes

Ranking: N/A

Record: (4-1, 1-0 Pac-12)

Last Game: W vs. Idaho, 79-41

Utah has won two straight games, including a 38-point obliteration of the Idaho Vandals as they wrapped up their out of conference play. The Utes finished 3-1 during that stretch, with their only loss coming at the hands of in-state rival, BYU.

Despite the loss to BYU, Utah played great team basketball with several stand-out performances during their out of conference schedule. Timmy Allen is coming off his best performance of the season against Idaho as he scored a season-high 22 points on 6-13 shooting and 2-3 from three-point range. Freshman Pelle Larson also got into a groove against the Vandals as he scored a season-high 15 points on 4-8 shooting and 1-2 from beyond the three-point line.

Collectively, the Utes played their best defense of the season against the Vandals, holding them to only 28% from the field and a pitiful 17% from beyond the arc. However, Utah struggled from three-point range as well as they only connected on 6 of their 23 shots, a mere 26%. No doubt Utah will need to improve on those numbers if they are to compete with the Bruins on Thursday.

The UCLA Bruins

Ranking: N/A

Record: (5-2, 1-0 Pac 12)

Last Game: L vs. No. 23 Ohio State, 77-70 

UCLA is also returning from their out of conference schedule as they finished 2-1 with their only loss at the hands of No. 23 Ohio State. The Bruins would have played an additional game against Long Beach State, but it was canceled due to an abundance of caution based on COVID-19 protocol by Long Beach State.

UCLA is coming off of a loss to Ohio State in what turned out to be a nail-biting thriller as the game featured eight lead changes and eight ties. The two teams were very evenly matched, but a clutch 11-5 run in the final five minutes is what sealed the victory for the Buckeyes as the Bruins went cold to end the game.

Despite the loss, The Bruins shot 40% from the field and were led by junior Cody Riley, who had a game-high 15 points on 7-9 shooting. However, one of the Achilles heels for UCLA was their lack of three-point production as they only connected on 4 of 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

It’s clear that the Bruins like to take most of their shots from inside the three-point line, especially in the paint as 32 of their 70 points were scored close to the basket.

How to follow the Matchup:

The game against UCLA will be on Thursday, Dec. 31 at 5 p.m. MST at the Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California. The game will be broadcasted on FS1 and as always will also be radio broadcasted on ESPN 700 with Bill Riley and Jimmy Soto on the call.


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