Just three ranked schools in action around college basketball on Thursday but two of them, No. 8 Gonzaga and No. 6 UCLA, could be upset as they face tough conference opponents. Both are solid favorites on the NCAAB odds, however.
No. 8 Gonzaga at BYU (+6.5)
Tips at 9:30 PM ET on Thursday on ESPN2 from the West Coast Conference. After a bit of an uneven non-conference slate, the Zags enter on a nine-game winning streak following an 81-76 victory at a very good Santa Clara team last Saturday. Gonzaga trailed by one with 90 seconds remaining, but outscored Santa Clara 8-2 over the final 1:14 to pull out the win. “We had to fight, and we had to dig,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said.
Drew Timme and Nolan Hickman scored 20 points each. Julian Strawther had 18 points and Ben Gregg grabbed eight rebounds. Recently named to the midseason top 25 watch list for the John R. Wooden Award, Timme is 123 points away from tying Jim McPhee for second place on Gonzaga’s all-time scoring list.
The Zags have won 34 straight games in the month of January, dating back to a 74-71 setback to Saint Mary’s on Jan. 18, 2018. GU has also won 91 consecutive games over unranked opponents. Gonzaga leads the country shooting 51.8 percent from the field. The Bulldogs are sixth in NCAA Div. 1 averaging 85.9 points per game. Timme ranks third in the nation with 147 made field goals and third with 371 points. His 21.8 points per game rank eighth in the nation. He is 21st in the country shooting 61.5 percent from the field. He is fifth in the WCC averaging 7.9 rebounds. Strawther’s 7.3 rebounds per game are seventh.
BYU has won eight of nine following a 68-48 rout at San Diego on Saturday. BYU went 24-for-48 from the field, 88.9 percent from the line and assisted on 17 of 24 made field goals in the 20-point road win. The Cougars outscored the Toreros 29-0 in bench points, 36-26 in the paint and only allowed five second-chance points to a team that averages 10.8 offensive rebounds per game.
Mark Pope’s squad also kept San Diego, who averages 78.3 points per game, to their lowest point total of the season (48) and held them scoreless for nearly 10 minutes in the opening half. Atiki Ally Atiki was one of four Cougars to score in double figures against the Toreros as the sophomore finished with a career-high 12 points in 22 minutes of action. The Cougars rank in the Top 20 in three different rebounding categories: rebound margin (16th), defensive rebounds per game (18th) and rebounds per game (20th).
This is the 31st all-time meeting between Gonzaga and BYU. The Zags have a 23-7 advantage in the series, with all 30 matchups coming under Few. Gonzaga has won the last five meetings dating to a 91-78 loss in Provo on Feb. 22, 2020. GU was No. 2 at the time and BYU was No. 23.
Utah at No. 7 UCLA (-12.5)
Tips at 11 PM ET on the Pac-12 Network. The Utes lost their first Pac-12 game in six tries on Saturday 70-60 at home to Oregon. 0. The Utes shot just .143 from 3-point range and .357 from the field. The only Ute to have a solid night all around was Marco Anthony, who scored 15 points to go with 10 rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting – which was his seventh-career double-double.
The 5-0 start for Utah was the best start in conference play for the Utes since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12. The five-game win-streak in league play is also tied for second most since joining the Pac-12, matching streaks done by the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18 teams.
Utah is 3rd nationally in defensive rebounds per game (30.71), 4th in defensive FG% (.365), 5th in defensive 3FG% (.268), 5th in rebounds per game (41.29), 22nd in rebounding margin (+6.8), 23rd in blocks per game (5.2) and 25th in scoring defense (61.5).
UCLA (14-2) won its 11th in a row last Thursday, 60-58 over USC. Jaylen Clark knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds remaining. Clark’s 3-point basket took place nearly 15 seconds after USC had erased an 18-point halftime deficit. Clark paced the Bruins with 15 points as the Bruins improved to 9-0 in home contests this season. Jaime Jaquez Jr. and David Singleton scored 12 apiece. Adem Bona contributed eight points and totaled a career-high 10 rebounds.
This marks the second consecutive season in which UCLA has won 14 of its first 16 games. The Bruins have limited the opposition to 58.1 points per game during the 11-game winning streak (holding the opposition to 28.4% from 3-point range).
Led by Tyger Campbell (13.3 ppg, 4.6 apg), UCLA has registered an assist-turnover ratio of 1.6-to-1, which ranks No. 8 in the nation (through Monday, Jan. 9). The Bruins have committed fewer turnovers than their opponent in all 16 games this season. UCLA ranks No. 3 in the nation in turnover margin (+7.13 per game), the best turnover margin among any Pac-12 program.
UCLA has won its last five meetings against the Runnin’ Utes. UCLA defeated Utah in the only meeting between the two programs last season, with the Bruins securing a 63-58 win at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Jan. 20, 2022.
BYU and Utah ATS