UCLA Men’s Basketball Staves Off Utah Comeback to Secure Road Win

Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell combined for 41 points against the Utes to tighten their grip on the Pac-12.

With the Bruins on the verge of an ill-timed upset loss, their star seniors swooped in to close things out right.

No. 4 UCLA men’s basketball (24-4, 15-2 Pac-12) fended off a comeback effort by Utah (17-12, 10-8) on Thursday night, eventually coming away with the 78-71 win. Although the contest didn’t come down to the final buzzer, it wasn’t long before that the Bruins had coughed away the advantage they had built throughout the night.

Midway through the second half, UCLA was up by 16 points. Five minutes later, that lead was down to three.

The Bruins had gone over six minutes between field goals, and their defense wasn’t getting stops.

Guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. – with the help of point guard Tyger Campbell – ended that cold streak, and the pair of fourth-year starters breathed life into the offense for the rest of the night. Jaquez dropped 23 points to break the 20-point threshold for the fourth game in a row, while Campbell snapped a three-week 20.8% cold streak from beyond the arc by shooting 3-for-4.

Campbell’s two first-half 3-pointers helped him lead UCLA with 10 points at the break. Through one period, the Bruins’ offense was shooting 61.3% from the field en route to a 43-31 advantage. Jaquez had a slower start, but he hit three of UCLA’s first four field goals in the second half to get back on track.

Jaquez was the only member of the team to score during Utah’s ferocious 14-1 run, however, and even that single point came on a 1-for-2 trip to the free throw line.

The senior from Camarillo, California, ended that run by assisting a wide open guard Jaylen Clark under the basket with 4:37 left on the clock, then scoring back-to-back buckets down low himself. Campbell nailed a triple to bump the advantage for four to seven, and Jaquez made it an even 10 with a clutch long ball of his own.

Utah answered by missing three shots in a row, and the comeback was dead in its tracks.

The Bruins only turned the ball over six times, winning the points off turnovers battle 14-4. The blue and gold did get outrebounded, though, with Adem Bona in foul trouble and guard Marco Anthony reeling in 12 of his own for the Utes.

By running the fast break, jumping passes and moving the ball, UCLA was still able to make of for its disadvantages on the boards and at the line. It certainly didn’t hurt, either, that Jaquez and Campbell scored 25 of their final 33 points.

Before guard Dylan Andrews’ garbage time free throw, Jaquez and Campbell had scored the Bruins’ previous 13 points to help them close out their seventh win in a row.

UCLA will have its final road game of the year Sunday against Colorado. The Bruins and Buffaloes will tip off their third-to-last game of the regular season at 1 p.m..

A victory in Boulder – or an Arizona loss to Arizona State on Saturday – would go a long way in securing UCLA a share of the Pac-12 title for the first time since 2013.

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