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Utah beats Northwestern State 84-62

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NCAA Basketball: Northwestern State at Utah Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, the finale of the non-conference schedule against an overmatched opponent, the fan favorite. Utah wrapped up their non-conference slate Wednesday night with a 84-62 win over Northwestern State at the Huntsman Center. The Utes wrapped up this portion of their schedule with an 8-3 record.

Utah, already down Chris Seeley and Donnie Tillman, were without David Collette and Gabe Bealer tonight too, giving some chances to some of the younger guys on the roster. Parker Van Dyke and Jayce Johnson each got the start tonight. The guys to capitalize on the the absence of Bealer and Collette were Tyler Rawson and Justin Bibbins, who both scored a career high 25 points. Rawson opened the game with a 4-of-4 effort from three-point range, while Bibbins drained five three-pointers and scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half. Utah’s point guard finished the game with seven three-pointers overall, which is tied for the second-most in a single game in school history. Utah was potent overall from deep, by knocking down 15 threes, which is something hopefully they can carry into conference play.

While Johnson continues to work on his offensive game, with 5 points on the night, he did pull in 15 rebounds, which is great to see. He’s going to play a big role this season, especially with Collette’s injury history and problems with fouls. If Johnson can find a way to get into double digits in scoring, that’d be a major boost for the team.

Utah now moves on to play the Oregon schools on the road in a week and a half to open Pac-12 play. It will be very interesting in the conference this year, as it looks like it may be a down year in the league, with ASU of all the teams leading the league. I think Arizona is broken and shaken after the FBI thing. USC was overrated to start the year, Oregon is rebuilding, UCLA is... well Steve Alford’s team, and a bunch of question marks throughout the rest of the league. It will be fun to see who steps up, and if ASU can keep it up.

Here are some notes from tonight’s game by the Utah SID team:

GAME NOTES

• Utah and Northwestern State met for the first time on Wednesday. The Utes now lead the all-time series 1-0.

• Utah moved to 5-1 all-time against opposing teams from the Southland Conference.

• Parker Van Dyke (5 points) and Jayce Johnson (5 points, 15 rebounds) registered their first starts of the season on Wednesday. It was Van Dyke’s 12th career start, while Johnson started for the seventh time in his career with the Utes.

• Rawson, who finished the game with 25 points, knocked down his first four shots of the game, with all 12 of those points coming from beyond the arc. He finished the game with four three-pointers made, which tied his career-high for the third time.

• Utah drained nine of its 15 three-pointers in the first half. The 15 made three-pointers are third-most in school history and the most since draining 16 threes against Arizona State back on Feb. 25, 2016.

• Bibbins finished the game knocking down 7-of-10 from three-point range becoming the first Ute to sink seven three-pointers in a game since 2006. It was just one behind Johnnie Bryant’s school record of eight three-pointers in a game.

• Johnson tallied a career-high 15 rebounds on the night, surpassing his previous career-high mark of 14 boards that he tallied back on Nov. 12, 2016. He is the first Ute to pull down 15 boards in a game since Kyle Kuzma registered the same against Washington last season.

• Utah led the game from start to finish on Wednesday. It is Utah’s sixth win this season when leading wire-to-wire.