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The Bruins' road trip to the mountain schools tips off Thursday night, as the blue and gold once again try and stave off an upset against a sub-.500 Ute squad.

WHO: UCLA vs. Utah

DATE: Thursday, Jan. 20

TIME: 8 p.m. PT

LOCATION: Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City, UT

TV: FS1 – Tim Neverett (play-by-play), TBD (analyst)

STREAMING: fuboTV – Get 7-day Free Trial

RADIO: AM 570, Sirius Ch. 83, XM Ch. 83, SXM App Ch. 83 – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Tracy Murray (analyst)

SPREAD: UCLA -9.5 (-118), Utah +9.5 (-110)*

MONEY LINE: UCLA (-568), Utah (+370)*

OVER/UNDER: O 143.5 (-118), U 143.5 (-110)*

UCLA is the No. 9 team in the country according to both the AP and Coaches Polls. Utah hasn't received votes all season long.

The latest KenPom ratings have the Bruins at No. 13 and the Utes at No. 112, while the NET Rankings slot UCLA in at No. 20 and Utah at No. 117.

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UCLA has gotten off to a 11-2 start to this season, losing to then-No. 1 Gonzaga after opening the season 5-0, then recovering with a road win over UNLV, a home win against Colorado and a road win over Marquette before a 26-day COVID-19 hiatus. The Bruins returned to action with a 96-78 win over Long Beach State and home, then went up to Cal and beat the Golden Bears 60-52.

The return to play, pursuit of a conference title and journey to a No. 1 seed hit a bump in the road on Jan. 13, though, as UCLA lost to Oregon at home in overtime 84-81, but it got back on track with an 81-65 win over Oregon State on Jan. 15.

The Bruins are averaging 80.6 points per game and allowing 66.8.

After opening the season with five straight wins, including ones over Boston College and Tulsa, Utah dropped three of its next four games and now sits at 8-10 on the season. The Utes are coming into Thursday having list six games in a row and sit in dead last in the Pac-12 at 1-7.

The Utes are averaging 70.7 points per game and allowing 69.3.

During the 2020-2021 season, UCLA and Utah faced off twice. The Bruins won 72-70 at home, then went on the road later in the year and won again 76-61. Thanks to those losses, the Utes finished below .500 for the first time in eight seasons and parted ways with coach Larry Krystkowiak, leading to massive turnover throughout the program.

The Bruins opened the year with all five starters and the whole bench returning from last year's Final Four team, but forward Cody Riley and guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. have both struggled with lingering ankle injuries. Guard Jaylen Clark started in place of Jaquez last Saturday, but the latter should be ready to go by Thursday with the former back coming off the bench alongside reinforcements Myles Johnson and guard/forward Peyton Watson.

Guard Johnny Juzang is the top scorer so far this season with 17.2 points per game, while Jaquez, guard Jules Bernard and guard Tyger Campbell are averaging 13.3, 13.2 and 12.6 a night, respectively. Campbell has the most assists per game with 4.5, and Johnson is leading the team with 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.

7-footer Branden Carlson has become the Utes' focal point on offense, putting up a team-high 13.3 points per game on 51.6% shooting from the field and 2.2 3-point attempts a night. If Carlson is unable to go due to the appendicitis that has sidelined him as of late, guard Marco Anthony brings plenty of defense and rebounding to the table after transferring in from Utah State, while guard Both Gach and David Jenkins Jr. are two more transfers averaging double-figures largely as bench sparkplugs.

On the season, Utah is one of the best free throw shooting teams in the nation, and they are shooting 20% better than their opponents from the line during conference play. Their 2-point defense is the worst in the Pac-12, though, and they also trail the other 11 teams in steals and blocks.

Cronin is now in his 19th season as a head coach, and he has an all-time record of 417-195 with 12 NCAA tournament appearances across stints at Murray State, Cincinnati and UCLA. Craig Smith, in his debut season in Salt Lake City, has been a head coach for eight year with an all-time record of 161-89 and two NCAA tournament appearances across stints at South Dakota, Utah State and now Utah.

UCLA is 11-8 all-time against Utah, winning all four of the head-to-head matchups since Cronin arrived.

*Odds via SI Sportsbook

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