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Balanced attack helps UCLA hold off Utah 57-53

Posted: January 10, 2013 10:40 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2013 10:40 p.m.
UCLA guard Larry Drew II (10) goes for layup as Utah center Jason Washburn (42) defends on Thursday in Salt Lake City. UCLA guard Larry Drew II (10) goes for layup as Utah center Jason Washburn (42) defends on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
UCLA guard Larry Drew II (10) goes for layup as Utah center Jason Washburn (42) defends on Thursday in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Most of the attention is usually centered on UCLA's fantastic freshmen, but the team's lone senior made the play the Bruins really needed against Utah.

Larry Drew II scored 12 points, including a driving layup to beat the shot clock with 9 seconds remaining, and UCLA held off Utah 57-53 on Thursday night.

"I knew they were going to switch. I was still mad I had missed two free throws in the clutch, so I just wanted to make a play," said Drew, who added five rebounds.

"That was a big-time play by Larry Drew, exactly the way we drew it up. He got the ball screen and the switch, and we didn't settle for the jumper. He attacked," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

The Utes, who were led by Cedric Martin's 12 points, had three chances to take the lead in the final minutes, but Glen Dean missed wide-open 3-point attempts.

"We were very fortunate. Dean had some wide, wide-open shots and missed them by the grace of God," Howland said.

UCLA's Travis Wear scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, when his teammates started misfiring.

"I was just trying to be more aggressive as the other guys struggled. I made a couple shots and got my confidence and my motor going there," Wear said.

Jordan Adams also had 12 points to help extend the Bruins' win streak to eight games. Kyle Anderson scored 11 as the Bruins (13-3, 3-0 Pac-12) took advantage of nine first-half Utah turnovers, versus just one of their own, to lead by as many as 13 before settling for a 34-23 advantage at halftime.

But the second half was a different story.

"They did a great job packing the paint and forcing us to shoot jump shots. It definitely wasn't as easy as it was in the first half, and they just didn't give us any room," Anderson said.

Playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd that trudged through a major snowstorm, the Utes (8-7, 0-3) dropped their third straight despite Jason Washburn's and Jordan Loveridge's 11 points apiece.

The game marked UCLA's first true road game of the season and its first game at Utah since 1930.

"I would prefer to play all of my nonconference games at home, because winning breeds winning and losing breeds losing," Howland said.

The Bruins posted a season low in points but also held the Utes to 39 percent shooting, including 4 of 20 from behind the 3-point line.

"They really woke us up in the second half, but we couldn't get the ball to go in the basket. But I preach to the guys all the time that our best offense is our defense," Drew said.

Wear tipped in an errant 3-pointer by Shabazz Muhammad to make it 55-49 with 4:07 remaining, but the Utes drew within two on Loveridge's back-to-back shots at the rim.

"We played so hard to get back into the contest and have a chance at end. It just came down to us not making shots," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said.

After that, the Utes missed their final six attempts, including three open looks by Dean, who finished 1 of 11 from the field.

"We got great looks, especially there at the end. One of our best shooters got shots he can make in his sleep. I would trust him with them 100 times more in the same situation," said Washburn, who had 11 rebounds for his third straight double-double.

On the other end, Drew, UCLA's lone senior, patiently dribbled as the clock wound down and waited for a defensive switch. As Washburn moved over to guard him, he burst past the Utah center and sealed the game with a layup over his outstretched arm.

Drew, who leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio, had four assists and an uncharacteristic three turnovers against Utah's hard-nosed defense. The team leader looked to score more as heralded freshman Muhammad had his worst scoring game of the season with just six points on 3-of-13 shooting.

"I did what I had to do," Drew said.

The tough-luck Utes have lost all three of their Pac-12 games despite having chances in the final minute in each. Utah, which was picked in the preseason to finish last in the conference, took Arizona and Arizona State to the wire but dropped both contests on the road last week.

"They had late pushes against the Arizona schools, so we knew they would make a run. We got sloppy and they were right back in it, but we recovered in time to get the win," Wear said.


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