Chris Smith scored 20 points, Jalen Hill added 17, and UCLA held off Southern Utah 76-61 Monday in Los Angeles.
The Bruins (4-0) overcame a poor shooting night from both the free-throw line and behind the 3-point arc, building a lead that grew to as much as 20 points. UCLA went 25 of 39 at the foul line and 3 of 11 from long distance.
Southern Utah (2-2) struggled to find scoring opportunities early, mustering just six points in the game’s first 13:27. After building a 25-6 lead, UCLA saw its defensive intensity wane a bit, and Thunderbirds scored 16 over the half’s final 6 1/2 minutes.
John Knight III led Southern Utah with 14 points. He shot just 2 of 9 from the floor but got to the free-throw line effectively and made 9 of 11 foul shots.
Harrison Butler added 13 points and six rebounds for the Thunderbirds. Cameron Oluyitan scored 11 points, and Dwayne Morgan chipped in 10.
Despite the balanced scoring effort, the visitors from the Big Sky Conference could not close the gap to single digits.
UCLA’s starting five spread the scoring around. Prince Ali joined Smith and Hill in double figures with 10 points. Tyger Campbell scored nine and dished five assists. Cody Riley recorded eight points and eight rebounds.
Two of the three made 3-pointers for UCLA came from reserves. Shareef O’Neal made his lone attempt and finished with five points. Jules Bernard made one as well but shot just 1-of-4 from the floor in total.
Although UCLA’s shooting was inconsistent, the Bruins responded on the other end. Southern Utah shot just 35.7 percent from the floor and 26.3 percent from behind the 3-point arc.
UCLA forced 17 Southern Utah turnovers, with Campbell and Ali both making three steals. Jaime Jaquez Jr. added two steals off the Bruins’ bench.
The Bruins’ second-half lead again reached 20 points with 4:11 remaining.
—Field Level Media