No. 3 Utah (6-0, 197.488) at No. 22 UCLA (2-3, 195.850)

When: Friday, 8 p.m. MST

Venue: Pauley Pavilion (12,829 capacity), Los Angeles


Radio: None

Livestream: WatchESPN

Series: UCLA has been by far the most competitive Pac-12 opponent Utah has faced over the years. The Red Rocks lead the all-time series against the Bruins 57-36-1 and are 13-9 all-time in Los Angeles. Utah has been the dominant team of late, with back-to-back-to-back wins over UCLA, including a memorable triumph in 2020 when both teams were ranked No. 3 in the country.

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The stakes

For Utah: Ranked No. 3 nationally, the Red Rocks have been one of the best teams in the country through the opening month of the season and by far the best team in the Pac-12. Utah has not lost to a conference opponent since 2019, having won back-to-back conference titles. After defeating Stanford, the Utes have now won 16 straight regular season Pac-12 meets. The trip to UCLA is Utah’s first true road meet of the season, and the Red Rocks are the only top 4 team without a score of 198 or better this year.

For UCLA: The Bruins have historically been the class of the Pac-12, alongside Utah, but are in the midst of a significant downturn. Last season, the Bruins failed to qualify for the NCAA championships, and so far this year, UCLA is a fringe top 25 team, albeit an improving one. Add in significant turmoil within the program — there have been allegations of racism and bullying that have impacted the gymnasts negatively on and off the competition floor — and UCLA is battling for a spot as a mid- to upper-tier Pac-12 team, but nothing more just yet.

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The gymnasts

For Utah: Utah boasts its fair share of top gymnasts, including Cristal Isa, Maile O’Keefe, Alexia Burch and Jillian Hoffman, all of whom rank in the top 25 nationally on at least one event. O’Keefe and Isa have been the standouts, earning Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week honors, while ranking No. 4 on balance beam. Additionally, Grace McCallum (6), Isa (4), Burch (2), O’Keefe (2), Hoffman (1), Jaedyn Rucker (1), Lucy Stanhope (1), and Sage Thompson (1) all have event victories this season.

For UCLA: On paper, the Bruins have one of the most talented teams in the country, thanks in part to their top-ranked freshmen class. Included in that group are Olympians Jordan Chiles and Brooklyn Moors, to say nothing of other top freshmen like Emma Malabuyo and Emily Lee. UCLA also boasts star sophomore Chae Campbell and key seniors like Norah Flatley, Margzetta Frazier (Frazier is out with a broken foot), Pauline Tratz and others.

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Next up

The Red Rocks travel to Berkeley to face No. 10 Cal. The Bears and Utes were the class of the Pac-12 in 2021, with Cal finishing second to Utah in both the regular season conference race and at the conference championships. This season, Cal has been the best Pac-12 team outside of Utah and is undefeated with wins over Stanford, Washington and Oregon State.

Utah schedule

Jan. 7 — vs. No. 18 BYU and No. 20 Utah State, No. 24 Southern Utah (Best of Utah)

Jan. 14 — vs No. 2 Oklahoma

Jan. 21 — vs. No. 21 Arizona State

Jan. 29 — vs. No. 19 Stanford, 2 p.m.

Feb. 4 — at No. 22 UCLA, 8 p.m.

Feb. 12 — at No. 10 Cal, 5 p.m.

Feb. 18 — vs. No. 13 Oregon State, 6 p.m.

Feb. 21 — at Washington, 7 p.m.

Feb. 25 — at Arizona, 6:30 p.m.

March 4 — vs. No. 5 Minnesota, 7 p.m.

March 11 — at No. 8 LSU, 6:30 p.m.

March 19 — Pac-12 Championships

All times MST