LOS ANGELES — UCLA stepped on the gas after yet another mediocre first half, and Utah had no answer for the Bruins’ pressure at both ends of the court in the final 20 minutes. As a result, the Utes left Pauley Pavilion questioning themselves following a belated rally that came up short.
Jordan Adams scored 24 points Saturday, and UCLA opened the second half with a 14-0 run on the way to an 80-66 Saturday that ended Utah’s three-game winning streak.
“The coaches told me to stay aggressive,” said Adams, who made 10 of 14 shots after going 6 for 13 in Thursday’s home win over Colorado. “After I have a bad shooting night, I just put it behind me. I tried to focus on this game. They beat us earlier in the year, so I was really focused on getting payback. Before I left the locker room at halftime, they told me to just keep moving the ball. They had a match-up zone, so I knew where to get my spots.”
Kyle Anderson had 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for UCLA (20-5, 9-3 Pac-12), and Norman Powell had 13 points before fouling out with 50 seconds remaining. Anderson entered Saturday as only player in the nation who was averaging at least 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists.
“We came out very strong in the second half, and that’s where we make our runs,” Anderson said. “The coach told us about the old Lakers teams, the old Bulls teams, always made a statement in the third quarter. But that doesn’t only go for the NBA. That’s just where teams are at their best. The first four minutes we played very well. We got stops on defense, we got scores and we opened it up.”
The Bruins have won six of seven since Utah beat them 71-67 on Jan. 18 at the Huntsman Center despite Anderson’s season-high 28 points — the last time Utah gave up 25 or more by an opposing player. That loss dropped the Bruins out of the AP top 25, and they haven’t been back since.
“I’m extremely pleased with our guys. We took it to another level today,” coach Steve Alford said. “Neither team came out of the gate strong to start the game, but I really liked our defensive intensity for about 32 minutes. We showed enormous progress there, and we came out strong at halftime again. Utah is a really great shooting team, and we held them to around 40 percent.”