UCLA vs. Utah College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Back Bruins on the Road? (Thursday, January 20)

UCLA vs. Utah College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Back Bruins on the Road? (Thursday, January 20) article feature image

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Juzang.

  • The UCLA Bruins hit the road on Thursday night to take on the Utah Utes in Pac-12 After Dark action.
  • The Bruins find themselves in second place in the conference, while the Utes have struggled mightily to take the last place spot.
  • Keg breaks down the game below and shares his top betting pick based on his analysis.

UCLA vs. Utah Odds

Thursday, Jan. 20
11 p.m. ET
-110o / -110u
Utah Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Pac-12 rivals will square off on Thursday night as the ninth-ranked UCLA Bruins travel to Utah to take on the Utes.

The Bruins sit second in the Pac-12 at 11-2 on the season and 3-1 in the conference.

Utah, however, has struggled severely, playing in a way that has made it the worst team in the conference standings.  Even though they do post an overall record of 8-10, the Utes are 1-7 in conference play.

Last time out, the Bruins came through with an 81-65 home win over Oregon State. The win over the Beavers was a great bounce-back game for UCLA after suffering titseir first conference loss of the season to Oregon.

Against Oregon State, the Bruins were led by Johnny Juzang, who posted 24 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Jules Bernard was also a key factor, accounting for 16 points. Oregon State had no answer for UCLA around the rim, allowing the Bruins to shoot 27-of-35 from 2-point range.

Utah, however, continued to struggle, losing 64-62 to Arizona State on the road in its last game.

The Bruins won both meetings over the Utes last season to extend their head-to-head winning streak to four straight games. They also lead the all time series, 11-8.

The Utes and first-year head coach Craig Smith had some issues early in the season, but since conference play began, they have gotten out of hand. Utah has now lost 10 of its last 13 games.

Getting back on track will be a tall task against one of the best teams in the Pac-12 in UCLA.

UCLA Bruins

The Bruins boast the 20th-best scoring offense in the country, averaging 80.6 points per game. And while they've posted respectable numbers — shooting  47.5% from the floor and 32.5% from outside the arc — the offense will be without key pieces against Utah.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. has dealt with an ankle injury lately and missed the Oregon State game. He returned to practice on Tuesday, which means he should be able to play at some level against Utah. Forward Mac Etienne has also been dealing with a knee injury and hasn't played yet this season.

But the Bruins will have Johnny Juzang, who has been UCLA's top scorer with 17.2 points per game. Jaquez adds 13.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game at full strength. Tyger Campbell is also an effective point guard with 12.6 points, 4.5 assists and 1.2 steals per contest.

UCLA's defense has been consistent, but there are definitely some issues. It allows 66.8 points per game, while also allowing teams to shoot 47.5% from 2-point range and 32.5% from beyond the arc.

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Utah Utes

Despite their extended losing streak, the Utes are 7-10-1 against the spread this season, which includes covering in both of their last two losses.

Utah isn't a horrible team offensively; it's just nowhere close to UCLA's level. The Utes average 70.7 points per game and shoot just 42.1% from the floor, which ranks 243rd in the country.

Utah's biggest issue, however, has been its personnel.

Branden Carlson, who averages 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, is recovering from appendicitis and has missed the last three games. He's expected to miss at least two more as well. Bostyn Holt is also out for the year due to a knee injury.

Both Gach is Utah's top healthy scorer with an average of 10.8 points per game. UNLV transfer David Jenkins Jr. is also in double figures at 10.7.

Utah's defense has been its best unit, allowing only 69.3 points per contest and limiting opposing teams to 42.9% from the floor. It's been specifically great at defending the 3, ranking 29th in the country in 3-point shooting defense.

UCLA vs. Utah Betting Pick

If Utah was a healthy team, it could definitely be a live dog at home. Unfortunately for the Utes, that's not the case, and the Bruins have proven their ability to win on the road.

This is a tough UCLA offense to deal with. It has shot the ball well, ranks 23rd in rebounds per game, and turns the ball over just 14% of the time. Showing it can win without Jaquez in its last game was also a defining moment for the team.

The Bruins are 0-3-1 against the spread in their last four games. I think that changes Thursday night.

They’ve played some of their best ball in their three true road games, and I think the offense will be too much for Utah to keep up with.

I have UCLA at -9.5 and would take it as high as a 12-point favorite.

Pick: UCLA -12 or better

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