First-place UCLA hosts Utah

UCLA Bruins guard Jaylen Hands #4 gets past Central Arkansas Bears center Hayden Koval #15 in the first half on Nov. 15, 2017. (Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

With a conference record just one double-overtime collapse away from perfect, UCLA (12-4, 3-1 Pac-12) has an early lead in the Pac-12 race entering Thursday’s game against Utah at Pauley Pavilion.

The continued progression of players like Jaylen Hands will help the Bruins stay in first place.

Hands is coming off a career-high eight assists to just one turnover in UCLA’s blowout victory over Cal last weekend.

“That’s what we gotta have out of Jaylen,” head coach Steve Alford said, “and that’s the growth that we’ve been trying to work with him on. … He’s great in transition, he always has (been) since he’s been here, but now he’s learning what the half-court is about and we saw a lot of growth for him.”

Tip-off for Thursday is at 8 p.m. with a TV broadcast on ESPN2 and radio on AM 1150.

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