In this conference, you can't take plays off. —Utah guard Justin Bibbins
LOS ANGELES — It was “Dog Lovers Night” at Pauley Pavilion and there was plenty to bark and howl about. UCLA really hounded Utah as well, prevailing 83-64 Thursday night.
The Bruins never trailed in a game that featured just two ties. They had a quick start and kept the Utes at a fairly safe distance thereafter.
"It was like a bad dream the way we came out," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.
UCLA made seven of its first eight shots, including five 3-pointers, to take a 19-7 lead in just over 4 1/2 minutes. Utah eventually climbed back into contention and made it 28-25 on a basket by Chris Seeley with 6:36 to play in the half. The Bruins responded with a 7-2 run before the Utes cut the deficit to four on two occasions down the stretch.
A late burst gave UCLA a 41-33 halftime lead. The Bruins opened the second half with an 11-4 spurt to put the game even further out of reach.
Trailing 52-37, Utah managed to close the gap to nine at one point. That’s when UCLA pulled away handily, extending its lead to a game-high 21 points late in the contest.
Aaron Holiday led all scorers with 20 points for the Bruins. Kris Wilkes finished with 19.
UCLA held a lead for exactly 39 minutes. The Bruins outrebounded the Utes 30-27 and scored 21 points off of turnovers.
Utah was once again shorthanded with forward Donnie Tillman in street clothes. The freshman has played in just one game since Dec. 9 because of a foot injury.
Despite a 14-12 edge in rebounding after one half, the Utes were unable to maintain an advantage after the break. They pulled down just three on the offensive end after the intermission.
Utah’s scoring leaders were David Collette and Justin Bibbins, who finished with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
The Bruins improved to 13-4 overall and a league-leading 4-1 in Pac-12 play with the victory. The Utes, meanwhile, fell to 10-6 and 2-3 with their third consecutive setback.
"They came out and hit shots and got hot early. We couldn't shoot the three and they did that very well," Bibbins said. "Nothing really surprises me. I've played against a lot of teams in this conference. In this conference, you can't take plays off."
UCLA was 12 of 23 from 3-point range. Utah was just 7 of 26.
Utah's longest skid of the season began with losses at home to Arizona (94-82) and Arizona State (80-77) in the Huntsman Center. It evened out a conference record that began with promising road victories at Oregon (66-56) and Oregon State (66-64).
Utah concludes its road trip to Los Angeles with a game at USC Sunday (6 p.m., ESPNU). The Trojans (12-6, 3-2) defeated Colorado 70-58 on Wednesday.
"Whether we're playing against USC or any other team, we just have to have consistency in this league," Krystkowiak said. "Everyone has to do a lot better job coming out of the locker room."
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