The Utes Come To Town (and other basketball briefs)


Does UCLA (10-9) need to worry about tonight’s home game against the Utah Utes (5-14)? Probably not – the Utes are 0-6 on the road this season and even their coach has admitted (on several occasions) that UCLA is the better team.

In fact, this game is a snoozer for the majority of college basketball fans.

However, the panic meter in Westwood is officially pulsating after a tough loss to Oregon and Bruins on and around campus are anxious to see what happens next. Before the season began, UCLA was ranked in the preseason top 25 and predicted to coast through the Pac-12 with the inside presence of big man Joshua Smith, the power and versatility of the Wear twins, and the leadership of guard Lazeric Jones.

However, soon after the dismissal of Reeves Nelson, Ben Howland’s squad is 10-9 and stumbling into a game with Utah Utes tonight that suddenly seems like a must win. In fact, if UCLA does not win tonight, the season will be doomed and the Bruins will be lucky to make the N.I.T. Here are some interesting notes about a game that has somehow become a ‘must see’ for any blue-blooded UCLA Bruin.

The Status of David Wear

Although David Wear returned to practice this week after experiencing a hyper-extended knee against Oregon, his status is still somewhat uncertain. It’s going to be interesting to see whether Howland uses Wear tonight against Utah’s 6’10” redshirt junior center, Jason Washburn. On a less concerning note, David’s twin brother Travis has been suffering from a sinus infection and may see less minutes as a result.Trouble for the Bruins? Unless Joshua Smith steps up, this could be tough rebounding night for UCLA.

History in the Making

This will be the first meeting between the Bruins and Utes since the 1983 NCAA tournament. That year, the Utes ousted UCLA and advanced to the Sweet 16 Tournament. Will we see sweet revenge in the Sports Arena tonight? UCLA supporters are hoping for a convincing stomping, or even better yet, a resounding performance by Joshua Smith.

An Upset by the Utes?

As a diehard UCLA Bruin, it pains me to think about the possibility of losing to the Utes. UCLA, who is coming off a loss to Oregon, has been looking sluggish as of late. Utah, on the other hand, just snapped a four-game slide with a 64-43 crushing of Arizona State. Even though it’s hard to worry about a team that doesn’t seem to know how to win on the road, Utes guard Chris Hines looked solid against Arizona State and UCLA is no longer playing shutdown defense.

Tip-off will be tonight at 7:30 p.m. from the Sports Arena. UCLA hopefuls will be watching in eager anticipation of what could be UCLA’s most decisive victory of the season…U. C. L. A FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!

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