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Utah rebounds and beats Eastern Washington

NCAA Basketball: Utah at UNLV Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

David Collette put up 24 points to lead the Utah Runnin’ Utes to a 85-69 win over the Eastern Washington Eagles Friday night at the Huntsman Center.

Collette’s new career-high surpasses his previous mark of 22 points, which he scored against Washington State last season, and his 11 made field goals are a new career-high as well.

Collette was able to capitalize on mismatches all night. Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak said it was great to see Collette bounce back after a non-productive game against UNLV.

“We know what he can do down there. We’ve got to gain a little confidence from that and we got to keep it up. We have to have an interior presence if we want to win some games against some good teams and it’s been a grind you know, for us. And Eastern Washington, eight days four games, that’s about as intense as it gets and those five days or so in Vegas wasn’t easy to come back and so it was neat to see him. We ran our first three sets for him in the post and he was efficient so the guys did a nice job feeding it to him,” said Krystkowiak.

The Eagles opened the contest winning the tip-off and scoring a quick bucket. Utah used runs of 9-3, 9-0 and 12-0 to later take a commanding 37-20 lead. The Utes and Eagles would trade a few baskets over the final three minutes, but Utah would take a 46-27 lead into the half.

The Utes shot .630 (17-of-27) from the field, which included a .455 (5-of-11) effort from three. Meanwhile, Utah’s defense limited EWU to just a .324 (11-of-34) effort through the first 20 minutes of play. Collette led all players at the break with 18 points. If he didn’t play another minute in the second half, he would have registered his season-high in the first period. He was 8-of-9 from the field and pulled down four rebounds for Utah in the first half.

Utah’s Gabe Bealer and Sedrick Barefield came out in the second half with back-to-back three pointers. Collette added four more points during a 6-0 run. That forced EWU to call an early timeout in the half after going down 60-29. Midway through the second half, the Eagles went on a 12-2 run and cut Utah’s lead to 69-46. EWU was able to get within 16 points and limit Utah to zero buckets over the final 2:22 of play but it wasn’t enough.

Justin Bibbins finished with a season-high eight rebounds on the evening, surpassing his previous high of five rebounds that he recorded against both Mississippi Valley State and Missouri.

Barefield and Tillman finished the game as the only other two Utes in double figures. Barefield finished with 12 points, while Tillman tallied 10 points. Tyler Rawson led the way with five assists on the evening.

Next up: Utah hosts Hawaii at the Huntsman Center on Saturday, December 2. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. MT. The contest will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.