Courtesy: SUU Athletics

Smith leads unbeaten UCLA to win over Southern Utah

By Jill Painter Lopez, Associated Press | Posted - Nov 18th, 2019 @ 11:32pm



LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Smith scored 20 points and Jalen Hill added 17 points to lead UCLA to a 76-61 win over Southern Utah on Monday night.

The Bruins remain undefeated and have won all four of their games at home.

UCLA built an early 17-3 lead behind an impressive defense and Southern Utah went 8½ minutes without a field goal during that stretch. UCLA had 11 steals and 10 blocked shots,

John Knight III led the Thunderbirds (2-2) with 14 points.

"We just dug ourselves in a deep hole to start," SUU head coach Todd Simon said. "Obviously with turnovers, coughing balls up and we were really, really sloppy for the first eight minutes. When you start that poorly, you're always kind of playing from behind, and we've got to be better than that. But we'll rectify it. And we've got to shoot it better. I think we've seen some fatigue, a little road weariness is catching up to us a little bit. We were a smidge slow with a little less ball pressure than we normally have, and we'll continue to get better at that."

In the second half, Shareef O’Neal made a 3-pointer from the right wing for the first points of his UCLA career. O’Neal, the son of Shaquille O’Neal, had missed the two previous games due to a hip injury and sat out last season because of open-heart surgery last December.

This was the first meeting between the schools.

For Southern Utah, Dre Marin made a 3-pointer from the corner with 10:44 left in the first half to end the scoring drought and cut the lead to 17-6. Southern Utah (2-2) trailed 35-22 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Southern Utah: The Thunderbirds weren’t able to run offensive sets like they wanted, but the experience playing UCLA at Pauley Pavilion will surely pay dividends later.

UCLA: The Bruins defense was stifling and that led to plenty of transition baskets. The game was a campus game for the Maui Invitational.

UP NEXT

Southern Utah: Plays Charleston Southern in the Maui Invitational at Johnson City, Tennessee on Saturday.

UCLA: Hosts Hofstra on Thursday.

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