SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – David Collette scored 21 points and Justin Bibbins totaled 17 points and 10 assists to help Utah edge UCLA 84-78 on Thursday night.
Aaron Holiday scored 23 points and Thomas Welsh added 15 to lead the Bruins. UCLA (19-9, 10-6 Pac-12) rallied from a double-digit deficit, but could not overtake the Utes in the final two minutes.
Utah torched the nets in the first half, making eight of its final nine shots and shooting 18 of 28 (64 percent) from the field in the first 20 minutes. That included 7-of-13 shooting behind the arc. Utah needed it to rally for a 47-40 lead after UCLA took an early lead.
The Bruins made five consecutive shots to jump in front and eventually went ahead 22-15 on back-to-back baskets from Prince Ali and Alex Olesinski. Utah reclaimed some momentum by forcing three straight turnovers. The Utes finally took their first lead at 29-26 when Donnie Tillman buried a 3-pointer and followed up with a dunk.
Tillman’s baskets were the first ones in a string of six consecutive field goals for Utah. He capped things off with a layup that put the Utes ahead 40-32.
UCLA whittled the deficit to a single basket on back-to-back 3-pointers from Jaylen Hands and Holiday. Utah boosted its lead when Bibbins buried a 3-pointer and drove for a layup in the final seconds before halftime to spark a 12-0 run spilling over into the second half. Gabe Bealer finished off the spurt with a 3-pointer that gave the Utes a 54-40 lead.
The Bruins rallied after Utah missed nine of 10 shots over a five-minute stretch. UCLA trimmed the lead to 70-69 on a corner 3 from Welsh with 2:50 remaining. Van Dyke answered with a pair of 3-pointers over the final two minutes to keep the Bruins from going ahead.
Holiday cut it to 80-78 on a 3-pointer with nine seconds left, but Bibbins and Van Dyke each made a pair of free throws to seal the win.
UCLA: The Bruins inability to win on the road may end up knocking them out of the NCAA Tournament picture. UCLA fell to 2-6 in true road games after shooting just 28 of 66 (42 percent) from the field against Utah. The Bruins endured too many cold stretches to capitalize on a 16-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
Utah: The Utes took another step closer to strengthening its NCAA Tournament at-large resume with a critical home win. Utah did it with defense. Besides forcing UCLA to struggle with its shot, the Utes scored 17 points off 13 Bruin turnovers.
UCLA: The Bruins visit Colorado on Sunday.
Utah: The Utes host USC on Saturday.
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