It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but the Utes got a win at the Huntsman Center on Saturday afternoon. The Utes topped Tulsa by a score of 69-64 after a pretty ugly first half, where the Utes shot just 35 percent in nine field goals and took at 23-17 lead into the half. Fortunately, for the Utes, things picked up for them in the second half, especially from beyond the arc.
Sedrick Barefield was held scoreless in the first half, but he got things rolling in the second, and was one of the key contributors that helped put Tulsa away. He scored 15 points in the final 20 minutes, including going 4-of-6 from three. He was joined in the backcourt with Both Gach, who had a very nice afternoon on the floor with 15 points of his own on an extremely efficient 4-of-8 from the field. We’ve started to see Gach flourish a little bit in the last couple of games, and he’s really shown his potential, he could be special.
Joining the two guards with a nice game was Jayce Johnson, who I’ve beat up at times throughout his career. He pitched in a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. If the Utes can manage to get double figures from Johnson, that’s a major bonus. I think it’s best if he rotates in with Topalovich, who only played 13 minutes Saturday, and Riley Battin, who had nine points.
The lineup I’d love to see starting for the Utes is Donnie Tillman, who had nine points of his own and six boards, Gach, Battin, Barefield and Timmy Allen. Now, that may hurt the bench production, but I think those guys could really spread the court. Fortunately, the Utes still have a few weeks to keep working on the rotation until Pac-12 play starts. And the Pac-12 is struggling, and with it being a rebuilding year (at least as it appears) for the Utes, they may jump up and bite some people.
Next up for the Utes is BYU at the Beehive Classic and Vivint SmartHome Arena next Saturday at noon.