Utah Utes at UCLA Bruins – NCAAM December 31

Utah (4-1, 1-0) at UCLA (5-2, 1-0)

Series:

UCLA checks in with a 12-10 lead in this series as the Bruins won the pair last season by double digits. The Utes had won the three previous to those two, but UCLA has won eight of the 14 games since Utah joined the Pac-12.

Vs. the Spread:

The total has gone OVER in eight of Utah’s last 10 games, but the Utes are 0-6 SU in their last six on the road. The Bruins check in at 5-1 ATS in their last six games while UCLA is 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games.

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Utah +6½ (-110) +255 O 137 (-118)
UCLA -6½ (-110) -305 U 137 (-102)

Last Time Out:

Utah smacked Idaho, 79-41, on Dec. 18 as Timmy Allen scored 22 points. The Utes’ defense held the Vandals to 16 points in the first half and then Allen was literally tied with Idaho at the midway point of the second half as the Utes led 63-22. The Utes had 13 steals and scored 19 points off 22 turnovers.

The Bruins’ last game was on Dec. 20 when they lost to Ohio State, 77-70, in the CBS Sports Classic in Cleveland. Cody Riley led the Bruins with 15 while Johnny Juzang netted 13. UCLA led by as many as six in the second half before fading down the stretch.

Block U:

Utah Utes LogoLarry Krystkowiak has built a program in Salt Lake City as the Utes are a continual player in the Pac-12 wars.

Timmy Allen (15.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Alfonso Plummer (14.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg) are terrific in the backcourt as Allen gets to the rim while Plummer is the shooter.

Allen is just 18 points shy of 1,000 while Rylan Jones has turned into the distributor on the point. Through five games, Utah has only averaged 9.4 turnovers per game while the Utes’ opponents have averaged 18.4. Achieving these numbers will be tough against a Bruins team that values the basketball, turning it over 10.9 times per night. Defensively, the Utes have been able to drive opponents deep into the clock as those opponents average 17.9 seconds per possession.

From the Den:

UCLA Bruins LogoStart with Tyger Campbell on the point as he averages 6.9 assist per game to lead the Pac-12.

Then Jaime Jaquez, Jr.,  (13.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) has registered 34.8 minutes on average while shooting 52.3 percent from the field.

Campbell and Johnny Juzang (10.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg) get plenty of consistent complementary help in the paint from Cody Riley (9.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Chris Smith (12.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg).

How well Utes 7-foot center Brian Carlson and fellow post players Mikael Jantunen and Riley Battin can control Riley and Smith will be a key in this Pac-12 matchup. Juzang came back to LA from Kentucky as he is looking to get stability back into his career. Mick Cronin is in his second season as the boss-man in Westwood and was a killer good hire. Once he got the Bruins to buy into his program last season, they went into the final day of the season with a shot to win the league in year one.

Winner: UCLA (-6½) 76, Utah 66
O/U: Take OVER 137

The Bets
UCLA -6½
-110
OVER 137
-118
Sub Categories:
Kenneth Cross / Author

Kenneth Cross is a new entry to The Sports Geek staff as he has 25 years of experience in print, broadcast, and internet sports journalism. Cross is a lover of all sports, but college basketball is his passion. He estimates that he has seen around 1,500 college basketball games - live and in-person - and hopes that grows this season. If you listen to Radio, you have likely heard him on Sundays covering the Carolina Panthers for some 20 years. Now in Tampa Bay, he works as a national radio correspondent.