Utah freshman Donnie Tillman put on a show and scored a new season/career high 16 points to help the Utes pick up an 80-60 win over Hawaii Saturday night at the Huntsman Center.
Tillman, who was 5-of-9 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line, came off the bench and added a spark on both ends of the floor. After the game Tillman told reporters he got off to a “sluggish start.”
“I had to find something to get me going,” said Tillman.
Going into the half, then Utes took a 37-30 lead over the Rainbow Warriors. Head Coach Larry Krystowiak weighed in on how the Utes were able to pull away on the score board.
“In the first half our discussion at halftime was strictly defense, you know playing harder we had to many post touches too many drive by, blow by, off the bounce kind of stuff and you know we started the second half with some deflections and getting some stops and in the transition offense we’re a lot better when we can get out and push it but it was an example of hanging our hat on playing some defense and getting our hands on some balls and the offense end opened up for us a little bit and that was key,” said Krystowiak.
Although the Utes were up going into the half, Hawaii closed the first half outscoring the Utes 8-2 and then opened the second half with a 4-2 run to get within five points. Utah then went on a 14-4 run to push its lead to 53-39. The Rainbow Warriors would get back within 11 points following a 7-2 run midway through the half, but Utah’s defense clamped down and did not allow Hawaii to convert a field goal for over four minutes following the 7:30 mark of the period.
An 8-2 run through the final media timeout would prove to be too much for the Rainbow Warriors and Utah would go onto win its sixth game of the season.
Senior David Collette matched Tillman with 16 points. Gabe Bealer chipped in with 14 points and Justin Bibbins added 13 points. Jayce Johnson came off the bench to score seven points and pull down a team-high 11 rebounds.
The Utes finished with four players in double figures.
“I mean it’s kind of been the nature of our team,” said Krystowiak. “Justin knocked down some threes, Gabe knocked some threes and those guys were the line share of our percentage from three we haven’t been shooting the ball very well, but there were a lot of open looks that didn’t go in so I think from an offensive point of view it’s not like we need to recreate the wheel at this point and come up with a bunch of new stuff we just need to get in and as I told the team get in and get a bunch of reps up. We’ve done a lot of shooting this last week and some guys have to find some confidence because then we could be really good. We are playing the game the right way and we manage to make enough and had a nice thread I thought with some three-point shooting and some inside, still got to clean a few things up but it’s kind of the nature of our team I think. We got different guys that step up from time to time and we don’t have one guy that we can rely on so it’s going to have to be a collective effort on our part.”
Next up, Utah hits the road to face Butler on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. MT at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.