UCLA (12-3) at Utah (8-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 10, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jon M. Huntsman Center (15,000) -- Salt Lake City, Utah. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: UCLA 10-1, Utah 7-2. Away Record: UCLA 0-0, Utah 1-4. Neutral Record: UCLA 2-2, Utah 0-0. Conference Record: UCLA 2-0, Utah 0-2. Series Record: UCLA leads, 5-4.
GAMES NOTES: The streaking UCLA Bruins hit the road for the first time in more than a month when they take on the Utah Utes in a Pac-12 Conference battle at the Huntsman Center on Thursday night.
After a 68-60 win over Stanford last Saturday, the Bruins have now won eight straight games dating back to the beginning of December. The Bruins, who are now 12-3 overall, last suffered a loss in a 78-69 setback against San Diego State on Dec. 1. This is the first true road test for the Bruins with the second coming on Saturday against Colorado.
Utah has lost three of its last four games after a 60-67 loss on the road to Arizona last time out. Utah is now 8-6 this year but winless in its two conference matchups. The Utes have found the majority of their success at home as they are 7-2 at the Huntsman Center. This is the first of consecutive home games for Utah which hosts USC on Saturday.
Last season marked the first time these teams met as conference foes. UCLA earned the win in that contest, the first between the two programs since 1983, with a 76-49 victory at home. UCLA leads the all-time series, 5-4.
Led by the second double-double of Shabazz Muhammad's career (23 points, 10 rebounds), UCLA was able to get past Stanford. The Bruins shot just 41.2 percent in the contest but held the Cardinal to 34.4 percent shooting, while also holding a 23-9 edge from the free-throw line.
Muhammad has been just about as good as advertised in his freshman season. He is second in the conference in scoring (19.6 ppg), while providing solid efforts on the glass (5.2 rpg) and shooting at a high level (.491 FG percentage). The talent on the roster doesn't stop there, as Jordan Adams (16.6 ppg) is a prolific scorer as well. Travis Wear (11.3 pp, 6.1 rpg) manages to score in double figures as well. Running the show from the point is Larry Drew II (5.9 ppg, 8.5 apg), who is a pass-first point guard that leads the Pac-12 in assists, while ranking second nationally in the category. In all UCLA has been the best offensive team in the Pac-12 leading the conference in scoring (79.9 ppg) and field goal percentage (.480) with each of those marks among the top 25 nationally as well. On the defensive front the Bruins are allowing 68.6 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting.
Although Utah trailed for the entire game against Arizona the Utes gave the No. 4 Wildcats everything they could handle. clawing to within a point multiple times down the stretch. The final time came with 1:07 remaining on the clock but the Utes missed a pair of 3-point attempts in the final minute as the comeback fell short.
Unlike UCLA, Utah has found the majority of its success on the defensive end of the floor. The Utes are allowing teams to score just 57.2 points per game, which ranks 21st nationally thanks to the sixth-lowest opponent field goal percentage (.354) in the country. Jarred DuBois (13.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg) and Jordan Loveridge (12.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg) are the top offensive options for the Utes. Loveridge has been the most productive of late, averaging 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game over the last four contests. Jason Washburn (10.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg) has teamed with Loveridge in the frontcourt and been a very efficient scorer when called upon, as he knocks down 61.8 percent of his shots from the field.
Even though Utah has been playing well defensively, the Bruins have more firepower than most teams the Utes are used to going up against.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCLA 75, Utah 65
01/10 10:35:48 ET