- Peter Yoon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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How it happened: After UCLA survived a four-shot Utah possession that could have tied the game or given Utah the lead, Larry Drew II drove to the basket for a layup that gave UCLA a 57-53 lead with nine seconds to play to seal the game.
The Bruins led 44-32 with 13:38 to play, but Utah climbed back in the game with a 9-0 run to close to 44-41 with 10 minutes to play.
Travis Wear scored eight points during the next six minutes, and UCLA opened a 55-49 lead before Utah’s Jordan Loveridge made two consecutive inside baskets to tighten the score to 55-53 with 3:23 to play.
Kyle Anderson was a one-man show early on, scoring 11 of UCLA’s first 16 points and pulling down five rebounds in the first nine minutes of the game. Still, Utah kept it close with an inside-outside attack, and a 3-pointer by Jarred DuBois tied the score at 18 with 8:30 left in the first half.
UCLA’s defense tightened from there, and the Bruins held Utah to only five points on 1-of-9 shooting for the rest of the half, and UCLA took a 34-23 halftime lead.
The Bruins survived an off night from leading scorer Shabazz Muhammad, who was 3-of-13 from the floor and scored only six points -- the first time he did not reach double figures in scoring. Wear, Jordan Adams and Drew had 12 points each for the Bruins, while Anderson finished with 11.
Player of the game: Wear basically carried the team in the latter part of the game, scoring eight of his 12 points during a five-minute stretch in which the rest of the offense was cold. He had 10 points in the second half and was 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
Stat of the game: Utah shot only 38.9 percent from the field, marking the third consecutive opponent UCLA has held to less than 40 percent. The Utes were 4-of-20 on 3-point attempts, which contributed to UCLA’s ability to win the game despite scoring a season-low 57 points. Dean, a 42 percent 3-point shooter for the season, made only one of nine attempts from long range. The tilt was the first for the Bruins at Utah since 1930. UCLA now leads the series 6-4.
What it means: It was a lot closer than you might have expected, but the Bruins survived their first true road game of the season to remain in a tie for first place in the Pac-12. Chalk it up as a learning experience for a young squad that is feeling fortunate about surviving a spirited effort by the Utes.
What’s next: UCLA has a quick turnaround for its 11 a.m. PT game Saturday at Colorado.
The UCLA Bruins extended their winning streak to eight games by grinding out a 57-53 victory over the Utah Utes in a Pac-12 game Thursday night in Salt Lake City.