Collette scores 21, Utah edges UCLA 84-78
By JOHN COON
Feb. 23, 2018
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Beating the shot clock with a critical basket is a scenario Parker Van Dyke has practiced many times. Van Dyke has done silent countdowns in his head and fired up shots in the gym on many occasions to prepare for such a moment.
Van Dyke earned a chance to do it for real. The junior guard made a pair of 3-pointers late in the shot clock in the final minutes to help Utah edge UCLA for an 84-78 victory on Thursday.
After the Bruins cut a double-digit deficit down to 70-69 on a 3-pointer from Thomas Welsh with 2:50 remaining, Van Dyke beat the clock on the other end with his own 3-pointer. He tacked on another in the same fashion with 41 seconds left.
"Your thought process kind of goes out the window when there's two or three seconds left," said Van Dyke, who finished with a career-high 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting. "You gotta make sure you just get a shot up and get a shot off."
UCLA still had a chance when Aaron Holiday buried a 3-pointer with nine seconds left. But Justin Bibbins and Van Dyke each made a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the win.
David Collette finished with 21 points on 9-of-9 shooting to lead the Utes. Bibbins totaled 17 points and 10 assists for his third double-double of the season and Tyler Rawson added 12 points.
Utah (18-9, 10-6 Pac-12) won its fifth straight game.
Holiday scored 23 points and Welsh added 15 to lead the Bruins. UCLA (19-9, 10-6 Pac-12) rallied from a double-digit deficit, but could not overtake the Utes in the final two minutes.
"We just let a couple of guys get away from us and we just can't defend that way," Bruins coach Steve Alford said. "This has been a team that for 30 to 32 minutes has proved that they can really defend, but what they have to grow and mature into is a team that can prove they can do it for 40 and we don't always do that."
Utah torched the nets in the first half, making eight of its final nine shots and shooting 18 of 28 (64 percent) from the field in the first 20 minutes. That included 7-of-13 shooting behind the arc. Utah needed it to rally for a 47-40 lead after UCLA took an early lead.
"We looked at our last game and decided that we were too soft guarding them," Collette said. "The plan this time was to pressure them and see if they could handle it."
UCLA whittled the deficit to a single basket on back-to-back 3-pointers from Jaylen Hands and Holiday. Utah boosted its lead when Bibbins buried a 3-pointer and drove for a layup in the final seconds before halftime to spark a 12-0 run spilling over into the second half. Gabe Bealer finished off the spurt with a 3-pointer that gave the Utes a 54-40 lead.
The Bruins rallied after Utah missed nine of 10 shots over a five-minute stretch and finally trimmed the lead to one Welsh's corner 3. That's as close as UCLA could get to stealing a much-needed road win.
"The strength of our pack is each individual wolf being able to play for each other and then the strength of each wolf is the pack," Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "The first half, I thought, was an awesome display offensively and defensively of being connected. Then, the second half, it's hard when you miss that many shots consecutively to fight that momentum, but I thought we got enough stops."
UCLA: The Bruins inability to win on the road may end up knocking them out of the NCAA Tournament picture. UCLA fell to 2-6 in true road games after shooting just 28 of 66 (42 percent) from the field against Utah. The Bruins endured too many cold stretches to capitalize on a 16-6 advantage on the offensive glass.
Utah: The Utes took another step closer to strengthening its NCAA Tournament at-large resume with a critical home win. Utah did it with defense. Besides forcing UCLA to struggle with its shot, the Utes scored 17 points off 13 Bruin turnovers.
Collette shot 100 percent from the field for the third time against a Pac-12 opponent this season. His shooting touch has been the Midas touch for Utah down the stretch. In his last six games, he has made 38-of-46 field goal attempts (.826). Collette came into Thursday's game ranking second in the league in field goal percentage.
Collette's 9-of-9 shooting effort against UCLA came about even though he had to go to the locker room briefly following a first half injury. The senior forward twisted his knee when he suffered a shoe malfunction.
UCLA: The Bruins visit Colorado on Sunday.
Utah: The Utes host USC on Saturday.