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Utah Continues Road Woes With Heartbreaking Loss To UCLA

(Photo courtesy of Jesus Ramirez, UCLA Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah basketball lost their 10th straight Pac-12 road game after suffering a 72-70 heartbreaking loss to UCLA on New Year’s Eve.

Utah had a chance to snap the road losing streak after UCLA after the Bruins missed one of their two free throws with 3.9 seconds left in the game to take a two-point lead. The Runnin’ Utes went down the floor and true freshman Pelle Larsson turned the ball over rather than getting a shot off to potentially tie or win the game.

Alfonso Plummer led the Utes with 22 points, along with 6 rebounds on 7-of-16 shooting from the field and 4-for-11 from the three-point line. Timmy Allen added 18 points and 6 boards, while connecting on 8-of-14 from the field. Mikael Jantunen was the third Ute to score in double figures with 11 points.

Dating back to last season, Utah has lost 11 straight true road games. Their last win on the road was in the 2019-20 season opener against Nevada on November 5, 2019.

For UCLA, Chris Smith scored 16 points to lead the way. Jules Bernard and Johnny Juzang had 13 points apiece. Jaime Jaquez Jr. contributed 10 points and 5 rebounds.

“I am just proud of our guys for battling and holding that team to 31 second half points, I thought we guarded real well, and we outrebounded them in the second half and played together,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said after the game. “Think about Alfonso’s three at the end of the game that could have put us up six, the wide open one off the offensive rebound. Instead we go down and give up three points and they tie it so it’s one of those college basketball games. It was a one possession game and was there for the taking. We’ve got to just keep building. We’ve had a good week of practice and made some improvements. So short of the fact that we didn’t win the basketball game, our team is improving and I like what we did here tonight.”

Utah G Alfonso Plummer With Hot Start Over UCLA

Utes guard Alfonso Plummer got off to a very strong start. The senior sharpshooter made his first four three-pointers to start the game. He also made a jumpshot along the baseline after catching fire from beyond the arc. That strong start for Plummer gave the Utes a 16-4 lead over UCLA by the first media timeout.

“I played with confidence,” Plummer said after the game. “My teammates, they found some plays to get me some shots.”

Entering the game against the Bruins, Plummer was averaging 14.8 points per game. In the first 4:21 of the game, he had 14 points. UCLA responded with a 14-0 run right after the 16-4 lead by the Utes.

Unfortunately for Plummer, that was the last time he scored in the first half. Plummer shot the ball two more times from the three-point line before the halftime break. His streak shooting brought flashbacks to the first round of the 2020 Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas when he made 11 3-pointers which set a conference tournament record.

The Bruins held a 41-32 halftime lead over the Utes. Rylan Jones knocked down two triples. Utah went 7-of-13 for 53 percent from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes of the game. Plummer finished the game with 22 points, making two shots from inside the three-point line and making four free throws.

Utah F Timmy Allen Turns It On In Second Half

After scoring just two points in the first half on 1-of-6 shooting in 15 minutes, Timmy Allen turned it on in the second half. The junior dropped 16 points on 7-for-8 field goal shooting and played all 20 minutes of the half.

Allen was very aggressive in the second half and was getting to the rim and looked more comfortable on the floor. UCLA is known for their aggressive defense under head coach Mick Cronin.

“I just kind of settled into the game,” Allen told the media after the game. “I’m not gonna let a couple missed shots into my head. My teammates believe in me and I know I got to play good to win games in the Pac-12.”

Utah dropped their record to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play. They will remain in Los Angeles and will battle the USC Trojans on Saturday, January 2 at 2 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter:ย @TrevorASports.ย You can download and listen to the podcast,ย here.