SALT LAKE CITY — After recording the program’s first Pac-12 road sweep with wins at Washington and Washington State last week, the Utah women’s basketball team returns home for another challenge — and a big one at that.
The Utes (12-3, 3-1) face 14th-ranked UCLA (11-4, 2-2) Friday (8 p.m., P12N) in the Huntsman Center.
"We use the word toughness and confidence and we aren't going to need it more than when we play UCLA this weekend,” said Utah coach Lynne Roberts. “They are so good, athletic and aggressive that if we aren't hanging in there and keep coming back, then it will be a long night. If we can hang in there and just attack them with that fearless attitude, then it could be a fun game to be a part of."
The Bruins, who are paced by Monique Billings (15.8 points, 8.8 rebounds) opened conference play with a loss at Stanford before recording back-to-back wins over nationally ranked California and Oregon State. Then came a 70-61 setback to No. 9 Oregon.
Utah, meanwhile, topped Arizona (89-55) in its conference opener. An 83-81 loss to Arizona State was followed by the wins over the Huskies (74-65) and Cougars (81-79).
REBOUND-A-RAMA: Utah has been tough on the boards. The Utes are averaging 42.1 rebounds per game, while limiting the opposition to just 30.6.
“For me, there is no excuse for not being a good rebounding team. I don't care if you are short or tall or athletic or not athletic, you can be a good rebounding team,” Roberts said. “People say it is 90 percent desire, but I think it is 100 percent. There are some athleticism things that maybe make you a little bit more effective, but you can rebound no matter what.”
Megan Huff and Emily Potter lead the Utes with 7.8 and 7.5 rebounds per game, respectively.
EXTRA STUFF: Friday is the annual blackout game. Fans dressed in black will be admitted free. The first 400 will receive Utah basketball T-shirts ... The Utes host USC Sunday at noon ... For the third consecutive year, Utah has received votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Utes had three this week.
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No. 14 UCLA (11-4, 2-2)
at Utah (12-3, 3-1)
Friday, 8 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700AM