Monday, January 16, 2017

OC Register/AP: Final: No. 4 UCLA holds on for narrow 83-82 win at Utah

UCLA guard Aaron Holiday (3) goes to the basket as Utah forward David Collette, right, defends don Saturday in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

jan 14, 2017 | kareem copeland | ap/o.c. register | ARTICLE LINK
UCLA has punished teams on the offensive end throughout the season, but the biggest sequence of the day for the No. 4 team in the country was a defensive stop that ended a near upset.
Lonzo Ball had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds to help the Bruins edge Utah, 83-82, on Saturday.
UCLA (18-1, 5-1 Pac-12) overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half despite a poor defensive performance most of the night. Aaron Holiday hit a deep 3-pointer with 1:52 left to give UCLA an 81-80 lead, and Utah forward Kyle Kuzma missed a contested 3 in the final seconds.
“We’re known for our offensive end, so it’s great to finally win getting the stop,” Holiday said. “I feel we can play with anybody who can score at a fast pace. It’s just a matter of us getting stops and scoring at the offensive end.
“But, yeah, I guess you can call it the gutsiest (win) because we actually had to do it on the defensive end in this game.”
Thomas Welsh made two foul shots with one second left for the Bruins and Lorenzo Bonam scored in the waning moments for the Utes (12-5, 3-2), providing the final margin.
The back-and-forth game featured nine ties and 12 lead changes. Utah opened the second half with an 11-0 run, but the Bruins answered with a 17-6 stretch.
“They got great heart,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “They got great desire. And they don’t play differently if they’re up eight or down eight. They’re learning to make winning plays as we go along.
“It wasn’t perfect, but on little rest I’ll take it.”
Welsh had 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting for UCLA, which shot 48.5 percent from the field. Bryce Alford scored 15 points, and TJ Leaf finished with 12 and 10 rebounds.
Ball, who was 7 of 12 from the field, played all 40 minutes.
“He made a lot of winning plays on the defensive end tonight,” Steve Alford said about Ball. “He was very engaged defensively. Offensively he had eight assists and we missed a lot of shots tonight so he could have had even more.”
Bonam led the Utes with 19 points, and Kuzma finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Utah shot 54.5 percent (36 for 67) from the field.
Utah used an 8-1 run to take a 24-18 lead in the first half, but the Bruins responded with a 19-5 stretch of their own. A pair of Devon Daniels layups started an 8-0 run for Utah near the end of the half, but Alford buried a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to make it 42-40 UCLA at the break.
“We made mistakes down the stretch, that was the biggest part,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “We had two critical errors on defense. That’s a great offensive team. What makes them so unique is their ability to push the ball in transition and continue to move and guys share the basketball real well. And then you throw in some of those offensive boards, it’s kind of a juggernaut.”
UCLA: The Bruins allowed the Utes to shoot 54 percent (36 for 67) from the field, and they also were outrebounded 34-32 by Utah. While UCLA is one of the best offensive teams in the country, defense has been an issue.
Utah: The Utes showed they can hang with anyone when their offense is clicking. Utah is deep enough to survive an off night from center David Collette and the backcourt wasn’t overmatched in the least.
UCLA might be able to inch a little higher after No. 1 Baylor’s loss to West Virginia.
UCLA: Hosts Arizona State on Thursday.

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