Los Angeles • Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak forever will claim to have seen this rally coming. Ute guard Sedrick Barefield knew he passed the ball to the right teammate for the biggest assist of his career. Parker Van Dyke liked the shot from the moment the ball left his hand, although he thought the same thing a month ago at Arizona.
So when Van Dyke’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer from 28 feet away in the middle of the court ripped the net and completed the Utes’ comeback from 22 points down in the last 12 minutes, the senior guard was not sure what just happened Saturday afternoon at UCLA’s fabled Pauley Pavilion.
“I couldn't believe it,” Van Dyke said. “I was like, 'Holy cow.' I couldn't believe I hit that shot.”
Unbelievable, indeed: Utah 93, UCLA 92.
Van Dyke concluded, “I'll remember this forever.”
Who won’t? Pick any checkpoint you like, and this outcome would have seemed ridiculous. The Utes somehow the game, after appearing overwhelmed for nearly three-fourths of it and never leading until it was over. Even after rallying in the interest of mere respectability, they trailed by 13 points in the last three minutes. And absolutely nothing had suggested what would develop when UCLA went ahead 69-47 with 12:10 to play, as the Bruins continually shredded Utah’s defense.
No transcript is available to prove it, but Krystkowiak insists he kept telling his players and even the referees as the second half unfolded, “We're coming back. This one's gonna be 'SportsCenter' [material], mark my words.' ”
Krystkowiak continued, “So in the back of my mind, I was a believer that something crazy could happen.”
The craziness ended – or began, as the Utes stormed down to UCLA's end of the court, chasing and swarming Van Dyke in celebration – after the Bruins' David Singleton missed one free throw and made the next shot for a 92-90 edge with 5.9 seconds remaining. The Utes were out of timeouts, but they had talked about having Barefield watch for Van Dyke as a trailer.
That's what Timmy Allen reminded Barefield, and it all worked wonderfully. Barefield wanted to drive, needing only a tying basket, but UCLA's zone defense was stacked against him. So after dribbling near the 3-point line, he flipped the ball back to Van Dyke, who let it fly. Swish.
“Just a great, unselfish play by Sedrick,” Van Dyke said.
“Honestly, every time Parker shoots it, I think it's going in,” Barefield said.
At Arizona, after Barefield had fouled out in regulation, Van Dyke had to create his own, go-ahead attempt that rimmed out in the last two seconds of overtime. This shot came perfectly in rhythm, as Van Dyke drilled his fifth 3-pointer of the second half after a scoreless first half.
Allen led the Utes (13-10, 7-4 Pac-12) with 22 points, followed by Barefield with 19, Riley Battin with a career-high 18 and Van Dyke with 15.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands scored 27 for UCLA (12-12, 5-6).
UCLA shot 70 percent from the field in taking a 49-32 halftime lead. Thanks to a bunch of layups and dunks, the Bruins made 20 of their first 24 shots from inside the 3-point line in a showing attributable to Utah’s “complete lack of effort on a lot of guys’ part,” Krystkowiak said.
The comeback, similarly, required a lot of contributions. Both Gach's 3-pointer helped the Utes score eight points in the last 8.9 seconds. As always happens in these sequences, UCLA cooperated just enough.
The Bruins know how Utah feels. In January, UCLA came from nine points down in the last minute of regulation and won in overtime at Oregon. Saturday’s turnaround was slightly less sudden than that one, but the Utes will savor it just as much.