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Mark J. Terrill, AP
Utah guard Sedrick Barefield, left, knocks over Southern California guard Derryck Thornton on a drive during game Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — Sedrick Barefield is closing in on a milestone. The senior is just 45 points away from becoming the 39th player in University of Utah basketball history to reach the 1,000-point mark.

Getting there, Barefield acknowledged, is a big deal.

"Obviously as a basketball player, I get to follow a lot of college athletes and successful athletes and when I scroll Instagram and I see a player reach 1,000 points it's like, wow, you know that that guy did something really cool,” Barefield said. “So for me to be closing in on that and being the 39th person to do that (at Utah) means a lot to me.”

However, as meaningful as it is, Barefield’s focus is on team success as the Utes prepare to face UCLA Saturday (3 p.m. MST, FOX) at Pauley Pavilion.

"To reach 1,000 points is really cool, so for me to be closing in on that is pretty special,” he said. “At the same time, I try to just focus on the task at hand in the present moment and that's getting a dub on Saturday."

" To reach 1,000 points is really cool, so for me to be closing in on that is pretty special "
Utah's Sedrick Barefield

The Utes (12-10, 6-4) are coming off a 77-70 win at USC on Wednesday. Barefield had 13 points and a game-high five assists in the victory. The trip is a homecoming for the Corona, California, product. Family and friends are turning out to support Barefield in his return to LA.

"I just want to be my best, especially knowing that it's my last time playing here as a college athlete in Southern California," said Barefield, who noted that a lot of people turned out at USC and more are expected at UCLA.

“It's a really cool experience to be able to play in front of your loved ones and your family members,” continued Barefield, who had a grandfather pass away last week. “A lot of my family from that side was there (at the USC game), so it's really cool to see them in good spirits."

Things are going well for Barefield on the court. He’s currently averaging a team-high 16.1 points, as well as 3.8 assists and two rebounds — shooting 40 percent from 3-point range and 82.4 percent from the foul line.

Since transferring from Southern Methodist University after the 2016-17 campaign started, Barefield has made an impact. He had 35 points in his second game that season and netted 33 this past December against nationally ranked Nevada.

"Personally, he's the most skilled player I've ever played with," said teammate and former roommate Beau Rydalch. "He's just a student of the game and I knew he was going to score a lot of points here. One of first games he had 35 (against Hawaii) and from the get-go this kid was special. So I'm not surprised, at all, that he's about to reach 1,000 points in 2½ years."

Mark J. Terrill
Utah guard Sedrick Barefield, right, gestures after hitting a 3-point shot as Southern California guard Shaqquan Aaron stands in the background during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak noted it’s a number that isn’t easy to reach, even with extra games like last season’s march to the NIT championship game.

“We know Sed can score,” Krystkowiak said.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Barefield has also enhanced other aspects of his game.

“When you get better as a basketball player, you start to understand the game more and you’re able to play more aggressive,” Barefield said. “I'm able to see things that I once wasn't seeing and kind of just been able to survey things a lot better. You know, it's cool to be able to start making more plays for other people."

Barefield was chosen as a team captain, joining Rydalch and Parker Van Dyke in team leadership roles.

"He's a quiet leader. He's not necessarily your guy that's going to scream at you in a practice setting and kind of yell at everybody,” said Rydalch, who added that Barefield is really good at working with his younger teammates — teaching them the nuances of the game and how to understand the communication between the coaches and players.

Rydalch is a fan, going back to when he and center Jayce Johnson were roommates with Barefield.

“I found a brother separate from blood,” Rydalch said.

As far as basketball is concerned, Rydalch noted that Barefield is super skilled and is an extremely hard worker with “a ceiling that is as high as he wants it."

Barefield has his sights set on an NBA career. He tested the waters last summer after his junior season with the Utes and said workouts went really well.

"I was playing really good basketball,” Barefield said. “I got a lot better, got a lot of feedback and I think that just doing that process will help me with the upcoming process again this summer."

Barefield’s preparation for the next level began with a short stint at SMU, where he played for Larry Brown. Barefield was eager to learn from the coach’s experience — the people he knows and his knowledge of the game. When things didn’t work out, Barefield wound up playing for another coach with college and pro experience in Krystkowiak.

“I've been blessed to play for two NBA coaches and have been able to learn so much from Coach K,” Barefield said. “It's just been a blessing."

As such, he has no regrets about switching schools.

“Nothing near regret as far as coming here," Barefield explained. “Just reflecting, this whole experience has molded me into who I am and I couldn't be more thankful to have spent my time at Utah."

However, Rydalch said that Barefield initially needed some reassurances that he made the right choice. It was a hard time in his life.

Rydalch, though, added that the adjustment went smoothly. Barefield’s scoring average has grown each season, going from nine points per game as a sophomore to 12 as a junior, then to its current level.

"It's a blessing and I'm just thankful that I've been able to continue to grow throughout my time some here," Barefield said.

Now, time is beginning to run out. There’s only eight regular season games remaining in Barefield’s senior year.

“It’s starting to hit me,” he said. “The more I realize it, the more I just try to embrace each and every moment with my teammates and just try to be as locked in as possible for these games.”

Barefield is hopeful his last outings with the Utes will be successful.

"Personally, I see this ending in an amazing way,” he said. “I spent a lot of time just trying to envision how I want this year to end and try to write it down — just try to manifest it in the best way I can. But I think this team has a lot of potential.”

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EXTRA STUFF: UCLA leads the all-time series with Utah 10-8, including a 7-3 advantage at home. … Murry Bartow is 5-5 as UCLA’s interim coach after Steve Alford was fired Dec. 31 after a 7-6 start to the season. Bartow was 1-16 as an interim coach at South Florida in 2016-17 under current Utah athletics director Mark Harlan. … The Bruins are led by sophomore guard Kris Wilkes (17.4 points), freshman center Moses Brown (8.7 rebounds) and sophomore guard Jaylen Hands (6.4 assists).

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Utah (12-10, 6-4) at UCLA (12-11, 5-5)

Pauley Paviliion, Los Angeles

Saturday, 3 p.m. MST

TV: FOX

Radio: ESPN 700AM