The Utah basketball team picked up another nice win on Friday night, as they topped Minnesota at the Huntsman Center by a score of 73-69. It was Utah’s first win over a Big Ten foe since December 9th, 2009, when they beat Michigan at the Huntsman.
The Utes flexed their muscle early, as they jumped out to a 16-0 lead, and it looked like it may be a track meet against the Golden Gophers. The Utes really came out firing on all cylinders with Both Gach, who finished the game with finished the game with 19 points, and Timmy Allen, who also had 19 points, but also had 10 boards, really paced the Utes and are proving to be quite a one-two punch.
Of course, as you’d expect from another P5 school, they’d make a run, and a run they did make, as. they widdled down the Utes lead to just six going into halftime, 39-33.
The Utes kept Minnesota at arms length all game long, but Daniel Oturu did all he could to get them over the hump with his 21 points and 19 rebounds, plus three blocks. The Utes just struggled to really put them away, largely in part because of Oturu, but they also hit some offensive struggles in the second half. When Utah would establish a nice lead, they would go a couple minutes without scoring, and then they do it again, and another five minutes would go by without a basket. Fortunately, Gach, Allen, as well as Riley Battin, who had 13 points of his own, kept the Gophers at bay in that second half.
As you’d expect with a young team some bad turnovers and some struggles at the free throw line kept the game closer than it needed to be. It is a major credit to this team that they won this game from beginning to end, and had to weather some runs. Rylan Jones had another nice game, even with five turnovers, which you’ll see from a freshman point guard. He still had 10 points, including some clutch threes in the second half, as well as six assists. Games like this are going to be big in the development of Jones, and the rest of these baby Utes as they learn how to play together. And so far, they’re learning by winning. Now Minnesota and Nevada may not be world beaters out there, but they are programs that this young team can build some confidence off of.
The win also marks the 200th win for Larry Krystkowiak, and if this team keeps gelling, and with the recruits that he’s bringing in, there should be a lot more wins on the horizon. We just have to weather the growing pains, as the Utes did tonight.