It was a game of runs in the annual basketball rivalry game between Utah and BYU on Wednesday night. As Coach Larry Krystokowiak said after the game against the Cougars, "It was like three different games." That's something that you can't really argue with, as the Utes started to bury BYU early in the first half, and proceeded to take a 24 point lead near the end of the half. Shoot, the Huntsman Center was in full celebration mode as Brandon Taylor hit a three before the end of the half to give the Utes a 51-28 lead. Utah's offense was almost flawless in the first half, with excellent ball movement, and spectacular shooting. The Utes shot 52.9% from the field in the first half, and 42% from deep.
Defensively, the Utes were the best they've been all season. They kept Kyle Collinsworth in relative check, and were able to corral BYU's potent offensive attack to 35% shooting and 3-of-10 from deep. The Utes did a great job keeping BYU from getting into the paint for easy drive and kick opportunities, and contested every three. It also helped that Jakob Poeltl got almost all of the BYU bigs in foul trouble.
Everyone expected BYU to make a run in the second half, especially since they can score in bunches, and sure enough, that's exactly what they did. The one-time 24 point lead was cut almost in half by the first media timeout of the second half. Utah's ball movement was gone, they stopped feeding Poeltl in the post, fell in love with the three, and they couldn't seem to get a stop, and the come back was on. Chase Fischer really got on track, and ended up scoring 26 points on the night. Kyle Collinsworth had 15 points of his own. So that was basically the "second" game of the night, where BYU really started to put pressure on the Utes.
The "third" game was the late in the second half, as Utah started to get rolling again and started to put some distance between them and the Cougars once and for all. The guards did a nice job getting the ball back into Poeltl, whom BYU had no answer for all night, considering he put up 26 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Things got really interesting with under a couple of minutes remaining in the game, BYU guard Nick Emery took a swing at Brandon Taylor, hitting Taylor and knocking him to the floor. The play was reviewed immediately and Emery was issued a flagrant two foul and ejected from the game. Taylor after the game that Emery's play "was a dirty play.. and it was uncalled for." Taylor went on to say that Emery said something "very foul" after the hit. Coach K said Emery told Taylor to "stay on the ground," after the punch. Coach K followed that up by saying it "got his undies in a little bit of a bunch." Listen to the post game audio below for more.
Here's a Vine of the punch:
On the game, Utah had four players in double figures, to go along with Poeltl's 26. Kenneth Ogbe scored 13 points in his first start of the season. A start that turned out to be a brilliant move by the coaching staff, as Ogbe served as a great spark plug on both sides of the ball for the Utes. Jordan Loveridge put in 12 points of his own, while Brandon Taylor had 11. Kyle Kuzma was just shy of making it five in double figures, as he had 9 points.
This is the third consecutive win in the series for the Runnin' Utes over their arch rival from Provo. In all three games, Utah has built large leads, and in the last two they've have to hold on to win at the end. Next up for the Utes is IPFW on Saturday.