UCLA 57, Utah 53: Bruins escape SLC

Ben Howland said last week that UCLA that opponents kept missing open layups, something he’d like as a continued trend. Against Utah Thursday night, the Bruins were helped to a 57-53 road win by some inexplicable 3-point bricks.

Glen Dean took two wide open 3-pointers at 2:02 and 1:41 — allowing the UCLA bench to breathe after watching the team surrender two offensive boards. Howland had said this week that the team would lose if it couldn’t box out effectively, something that has been one of the young squad’s biggest holes.

“They missed some wide open shots late,” Howland said. “Dean missed two wide open shots by the grace of God. I was really happy to escape this place.”

The positives are that the Bruins entered a rough environment and survived. The Huntsman Center was packed with a season-high attendance of 9,510, well above Utah’s home average of 7,380. The increase may be something UCLA should learn to expect: even as they remain a flawed team, the Bruins are an entertaining team and a marquee program.

A close win against the gritty Utes also isn’t necessarily cause for alarm; they’ve now lost three conference games by a combined eight points. Continue reading

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