The Runnin' Utes had a nice bounce back performance Wednesday night, as they beat Savannah State by a score of 99-53. The Utes had six players score in double figures led by Kyle Kuzma's 18 points, Lorenzo Bonam had 14, Brandon Taylor had 13, Gabe Bealer had 11, plus Daraki Tucker and Jakob Poeltl each had 10.
After an awful performance against Wichita State on Saturday, the Utes played with a lot more energy and a lot smarter with the ball, committing only 11 turnovers on the night. Sure, they were playing an overmatched opponent, but they played smarter and sharper, which you want to see against an opponent you should run over. The point guards were better at taking care of the ball, and we saw Bonam playing with the ball in his hands a bit more, being a facilitator. It will be interesting if he can keep that up, because he did have a career high 7 assists on the night. Him handling the ball helps put Taylor into his more natural position of playing a shooting guard, and being able to really spot up. Taylor probably played his best game of the season with his 13 points, most of which came in the first half, on 5-of-8 shooting. He hit the first couple shots he put up, and things really started to open up for him.
Defensively, the Utes held SSU to 32% shooting on the night, and 7-of-20 from the three point line. Utah had been giving up about 9 threes a game going into this matchup, so that's been a major concern. Utah was also a lot more active in passing lanes and getting deflections. Overall, on defense Utah
This was a nice game to use to get things rolling a little bit again ahead of the matchup against Duke Saturday morning. Utah's still very much a work in progress, but they are looking a bit better now than after their disjointed effort Saturday night. It will be key for the likes of Kyle Kuzma and others to take their Huntsman Center performances on the road, and the stage doesn't get much bigger than Madison Square Garden against the defending national champions.