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Utah Basketball: Runnin' Utes beat down Cal State Monterey Bay in Exhibition Game

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Utes started the 2015-16 season with a win over Cal State Monterey Bay Thursday night, by a score of 124 to 70 in an exhibition game. As it always goes with match ups like these, the bigger, faster, stronger Utes just rolled over the Otters, but identified some areas they need to be cleaned up as they move into the regular season. The Utes were led Brandon Taylor with 20 points, Jordan Loveridge with 17 points, and three other Utes with 14 points (Lorenzo Bonam, Gabe Bealer and Kyle Kuzma). Kuzma posted a double-double with those 14 points and 10 rebounds.

As you'd expect for an opener, especially against an opponent such as CSUMB, the Utes were sloppy during stretches of the game, including plenty of missed paint opportunities and free throws. The Utes opened the game cold from beyond the arc, by starting 3-of-11 from downtown, but eventually got things rolling, especially in the later part of the 1st half and to open the 2nd.

Defensively, the Utes had some issues keeping their guys out of the paint. Multiple times CSUMB would dribble-drive into the paint for an opportunity to score, but fortunately for the Utes, their size helped negate any threat, which they won't have the decided size advantage as they move into the season and Pac-12 play. It's going to be interesting how Utah replaces their best on-ball defender, Delon Wright. With Jacob Poeltl back there, he will be a big deterrent, but they can't allow players to just waltz to the basket and get Poeltl into foul trouble. Of course, it wasn't that bad, but there is some opportunity to clean that up.

Offensively, the Utes showcased (as much as you can in a game like this) some of their new playmakers, specifically Lorenzo Bonam, the JC transfer guard. Bonam had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists on the night, and showed his ability to handle the ball and get into the paint. He's definitely a scoring guard, unlike Delon Wright, who was a distributor. The Utes appear to have some nice depth at the guard and wing position with Brandon Taylor, Jordan Loveridge, Brekkott Chapman, Isaiah Wright, Dakari Tucker and Kyle Kuzma, any of which is able to hit a three. That'll be crucial as teams will zone up the Utes to help eliminate Poeltl's post presence.

Poeltl was pretty quiet most of the night, outside of a stretch in the 1st half. He finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds, but the bigger story was him going 3-of-3 from the free throw line. That's something the Utes will need to translate into the regular season, as they could leave him on the floor during obvious fouling situations.

Next up for the Utes, they open the regular season against Southern Utah next Friday at the Huntsman Center.