Salt Lake City, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - The 10th-ranked team in the land puts an unblemished home record on the line Sunday afternoon, as the Runnin' Utes of Utah host the UCLA Bruins in a Pac-12 Conference battle at the Huntsman Center.
Utah, which has lost only to 16th-ranked San Diego State and 10th-ranked Kansas by a combined seven points, is perfect at home to this point with nine wins in as many opportunities. The latest victory for the squad took place two nights ago when the Utes dominated the USC Trojans in a 79-55 final.
In the midst of a five-game homestand, the Utes will not be hitting the road again until Jan. 15 when they clash with the Arizona State Sun Devils.
As for the Bruins, a team which has yet to win a true road game in 2014-15, they too tipped off the conference schedule on Friday night, but in their case they came up short against Colorado, 62-56, at the Coors Events Center. The loss was the fourth in a row for a group that had won four straight before facing national powers such as Gonzaga and Kentucky.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, one that began back in 1928, the Bruins are ahead by a count of 7-5 thanks in part to an 80-66 victory in the most recent meeting last February.
The Bruins shot 31.4 percent from the field two nights ago in Boulder and only 6-of-26 behind the 3-point line, but the team's downfall probably had a lot to do with the fact that they were outscored at the free-throw line by a 21-6 margin by the Buffaloes. Norman Powell tried to give the visitors a fighting chance with his game-high 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting from the floor, notching his 1,000th point along the way, followed by Isaac Hamilton with 16 points on 6-of-14 from the field, but no one else on the roster made more than three field goals in the losing effort.
Bryce Alford, the son of head coach Steve, may lead the team in scoring overall with his 16.8 ppg, but you would not have been able to tell given his 2-of-16 shooting effort versus Colorado, which included coming up empty on nine tries beyond the arc. A 91.0 percent shooter at the free-throw line, Alford also paces the program with 83 assists, which many of those surely going to Powell (15.6 ppg), Hamilton (12.4 ppg) and Kevin Looney (12.3 ppg).
The Runnin' Utes showed little mercy for the Trojans as the hosts converted not only 56.9 percent from the field but also 11-of-19 (.579) out on the perimeter, more than making up for a weak 10-of-20 showing at the free-throw line. Jordan Loveridge was one of four players to score in double figures as he dropped in 14 points, while Brandon Taylor and Delon Wright checked in with 11 points apiece, the latter also handing out 10 assists. Dakarai Tucker responded with 10 points off the bench.
Loveridge, who is back in action after missing several games, has led the team in scoring in each of the last two contests and is listed as the second- leading scorer for the Utes with 12.3 ppg stemming from 52.2 percent shooting from the field. Wright has assumed the lead in scoring with 15.4 ppg and has also found plenty of opportunities to get his teammates involved in the action with 74 assists, against a mere 22 turnovers.