It’s a personal belief of mine, as a sports person, that any win you get on the road is good.
That certainly described UCLA in Salt Lake City, UT on Thursday as the Bruins overcame a treacherous drive to the Huntsman Center in a blizzard and a late Utah run to beat the Utes, 57-53, disappointing 9,510 Ute fans who were hungry for an upset.
Utah, scrappily coming back from an 11 point halftime deficit, missed four shots while being only down by two with about a minute to go in the game, then UCLA point guard Larry Drew II made the clinching basket with nine seconds left.
Shabazz Muhammad had his first real off night as a Bruin, missing ten of 13 shots on his way to just six points, but four other Bruins scored in double figures and took up the slack as Drew, Travis Wear, Jordan Adams each had 12 points, with Kyle Anderson scoring 11.
For the game, UCLA shot 40% while holding Utah to 38.9%.
Anderson and Wear both had eight rebounds to lead the team, but they were once again outrebounded by Utah (now 8-7 and winless in the Pac-12 at 0-3), 37-35.
It wasn’t pretty, and the style points were fairly minimal, but UCLA will gladly take this eighth consecutive win, their longest win streak since winning ten straight in 2008-09.
Their record improved to 13-3 with a 3-0 start in Pac-12 Conference play.”It’s good to grind out a victory,” coach Ben Howland commented afterward.
Although a win is indeed a win, particularly away from home in front of hostile crowds, the Bruins will need to play better on Saturday when they take on defending Pac-12 tournament champion Colorado, a good team that was robbed of an upset in Tucson against Arizona earlier this season when a winning three-point shot at the buzzer wasn’t counted.
A UCLA win in Boulder against the 11-4 Buffaloes would be very encouraging for the Bruins’ ambitions as well as great for the team’s psyche down the road.
Colorado Buffaloes, Boulder, CO, Saturday, January 12, 2013, 11 a.m. TV: Pac-12 Networks