Utes Looking to Salvage Season
In dire need of a signature win to pad their resume, the Utah Utes get the perfect opportunity Thursday when the No. 4 ranked UCLA Bruins come to town.
The Utes have struggled against the top teams in the Pac-12 Conference, dropping six games to teams with winning conference marks, including five by double digits.
Utah’s record against teams ranked in the top 25 isn’t great, but it’s far better at home against such teams, including a win over a top 10 Arizona squad.
If the Utes are going to beat UCLA for the first time since 2019, they will likely have to do it without primary ball handler Rollie Worster, who is dealing with an ankle injury.
“It’s a fine line of reinventing yourself in game 29 and see who can fill what roles,” Utah second-year head coach Craig Smith told the media. “We still have opportunities to play ourselves into some things. It’s a big weekend for us. It’s exciting to play this at home.”
The Bruins have been on a roll behind Jaime Jaquez, who has scored 20 or more points in the last three games, but they have been vulnerable away from Westwood as all four of their losses, including both conference defeats, have come on the road.
Jaquez, an All-American candidate, was limited to eight points in the first meeting with Utah, a 68-49 win for the Bruins on Jan. 12, but did have 12 rebounds and six assists.
“It’s going to be hard to score (against Utah). You look at our wins up there, they are grinding wins,” UCLA head coach Mick Cronin, who has equaled Jim Harrick and Caddy Works for the best winning percentage (.728) through 125 games, told the media.
Let’s check the latest college basketball news, stats, injury reports, and college basketball lines for UCLA vs Utah. We’ve got plenty of NCAA basketball picks for you to consider.
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Exacte to See More Time
If Worster can’t play, the Utes will likely be left with either forward Ben Carlson or guard Wilguens Exacte Jr. starting in his place.
Carlson is the better shooter and rebounder and could provide defense inside, but Exacte is probably the better option going against UCLA’s five-guard lineup.
Exacte played a season-high 22 minutes against Arizona State, scoring eight points, but the Canadien is too inexperienced and turnover-prone to run the point full-time.
That duty could fall to either sophomore Lazar Stefanovic or senior Marco Anthony, two experienced players who have combined for 4.8 assists per game this season.
“Wil was really good. Played great against Arizona and very well against Arizona State,” Smith told the media. “You get to that point where you start figuring things out. You get confidence. The game slows down a little bit. Hopefully, that trend will continue.”
Campbell Trying to Shake Shooting Woes
Tyger Campbell had a strong game in the first meeting with Utah, going for 17 points and seven assists, but the guard has been in a shooting slump recently.
The senior guard, who is one of eight UCLA players since 1973-74 to accrue at least 1,000 points and 500 assists, has failed to crack double figures in the last five games while shooting 27.9% from the field and 4-of-15 from 3-point territory.
Despite the shooting troubles, Campbell, who needs two assists for 600, has kept his turnovers in check as he has just five in the last five games against 25 assists.
“On the road, you can’t turn it over and your defense really has to do its thing,” the Iowa native, who has 36 assists against 13 turnovers in six career games against Utah, told the media. “That’s what we are focusing on this week. We just got to come ready.”
UCLA vs Utah Game Injuries
UCLA vs Utah Head-to-Head
The Bruins have won six straight games against the Utes and three straight at the Huntsman Center. The teams have averaged 129 points in the last six meetings.
UCLA vs Utah Game Information
- Game: UCLA (23-4, 14-2 Pac-12) vs Utah (17-11, 10-7)
- Location: Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT
- Day/Time: Thursday, Feb. 23, 11:00 p.m. ET
- UCLA vs Utah Live Stream: TBS.com
UCLA vs Utah Betting Lines
UCLA vs Utah Picks and Prediction
The Bruins are favored by 7 points on the college basketball lines. UCLA is 7-4 against the spread (ATS) away from home and 6-2 ATS as a road favorite.
Utah has won its only game as a home underdog ATS.
UCLA is listed at -300 in our Las Vegas college basketball odds. This means that if you wager $100 on the Bruins, you have a chance to win $33. Utah is +250, offering a chance to win $250 on a $100 wager.
The implied probability attached to the betting lines gives UCLA a 75.00% chance to win, with the Utes 28.57%.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.