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Runnin’ Utes run past Mississippi Valley State 98-63

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be clear, Mississippi Valley State is not a good team, after all they are 0-4 now on the season, but we saw some good things from the Utes tonight. We saw some players hit some shots that we haven’t seen shoot very well this season. In a win over MVSU by a score of 98-63, the Utes built some confidence.

First of all, Donnie Tillman continues his progression, and may very well be “the guy” for this team going forward. Tillman had 12 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals for the game, and just looked like the best player on the floor when he was out there. He showed some improved athleticism with some nice dunks, and was playing aggressive defense. If he can continue on this trajectory, including being consistent from beyond the arc, he’ll be tough to defend. Timmy Allen also had a very nice game, going for 13 points and 6 rebounds of his own. He really played well in the second half, and really likes to mix it up in the paint. If he can stretch a defense, so they don’t just sag off on him, he’ll be a nice one-two punch with Tillman. And how about Charles Jones, who been really struggling to open this season, he for 12 points after hitting 4 of 5 three point attempts. The former JC Player of the Year gave us a taste of what he can bring to the team. I like the idea of starting him at the two guard. and allowing Parker Van Dyke to come off the bench. That takes some pressure of PVD, who also had a nice night tonight, with 16 points and 4 threes of his own.

This is what I was hoping to see against Maine, but it seems that the combo of bouncing back from a loss to Minnesota and a bad opponent helped this Utah team refocus and get some needed good reps on offense. The Utes did tie the school record tonight for threes made, with 17, and they also had 23 assists to only 10 turnovers. Not a lot of resistance by Mississippi Valley, but it’s good to see the team make the plays when they’re there.

The Utes now move to 2-1 on the season, and will now play in the Wooden Legacy next week, Thanksgiving through Saturday, playing in three total games. A good step forward for this young team, and something hopefully they can build upon.