Are Wright and Taylor the best guard duo in the Pac 12? No one would have made that argument to start the year, or even a month ago. The way Taylor is playing right now is beyond anything any Ute fan could have hoped for averaging 12.5 points per game in conference play while shooting a ridiculous 61.7% from deep while playing some impressive defense. Wright? We're done praising him. There aren't enough words in the dictionary that are synonyms for greatness. I've used them all already.
Bryce Alford runs the show for UCLA. After his disaster in Salt Lake City he's bounced back, but he continues to often shoot his own team out of games with some selections that even J.R. Smith would question. Norman Powell is a tremendous athlete, but if his outside shot isn't dropping, he can struggle. The senior is averaging 15.5 points per game. Isaac Hamilton? Imagine watching a constantly confused AC Green, but 5 inches shorter. As a group, these guys take a lot of 3s....and miss a lot of them.
Jordan Loveridge's numbers may not reflect it as they are down across the board in terms of per game production, but he's shooting at the highest clip of his career, shooting almost 50% from 3 and knocking down 83% of his free throws. Efficient. Chris Reyes has to keep UCLA off of the offensive glass. That's what the Bruins do best as they lead the conference in offensive rebounds at 13.9 per contest.
A big reason for that is freshman Kevon Looney. The long-lanky kid has a 1000 foot wingspan and comes in averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. Not much of an outside threat, but he uses both hands well and has a knack for finding the ball on the offensive glass for a put-back.
It's the battle of banged-up big men. Jakob Poeltl returned to action against Washington on Sunday, but didn't look like his normal self. Three days of rest should get the big Austrian closer to normal.
Tony Parker missed UCLA's swing through Oregon, and the Bruins lost both. When he's healthy and actually getting touches, Parker is pretty good. He can finish inside with both hands and has significantly improved his footwork over last season. Not the tallest center at 6-9, but is a big bodied kid that draws a lot of fouls. If he can't go, it's freshman 7 footer Thomas Welsh.
Advantage: Even (Utah if Parker doesn't play)
Tucker, Chapman, Kuzma, Wright, Bachynski, Olsen, Ogbe (HE'S BACK). That's depth, and Krystkowiak uses it perfectly.
True freshman Gyorgy Golomon has emerged a bit with more time in Pac 12 play and could be a player down the line. Noah Allen should have gone to Harvard where he initially committed. Even with UCLA's lack of depth, he's not seeing the floor much as a sophomore. UCLA is dangerously thin.
The Utes pummeled the Bruins just a few weeks ago at the Huntsman Center, outplaying them in every single way. UCLA is a different team at home though, going 10-1 with the only loss to 3rd ranked Gonzaga. That said, they're still nothing more than a slightly above average team at Pauley Pavilion (and a bad team on the road). Utah, though, is a very good home team and a good road team. Don't expect the Bruins to have a poor shooting night like last time, but too much Delon Wright, and the big coaching mismatch will be the difference in a game that Utah pulls out late.
Utah 75 UCLA 67
Game Matchups and Preview: Utah at UCLA
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