I never thought I would be able to type the following in my mortal life.
The Utah Men’s Basketball team beat Kentucky. Sure, it’s 21 years too late, but it’s a win.
It wasn’t always pretty for the Utes, as they almost gave away a 17 point lead in the second half, but they had just enough to hold on to beat the No. 6 team in the country in Las Vegas. Utah was led by Timmy Allen’s 25 points, including some big ones down the stretch, as well as 9 rebounds and 4 assists. He was joined by Both Gach with 14 points, with 13 of them pretty much right out the gate getting the Utes off to a scorching hot start. Rylan Jones had a nice game in his return to action, with 12 points and 6 assists, although he did struggle against Kentucky’s defense at times, and turned the ball over 4 times, including one huge one with about a minute remaining that led to a game tying layup. Riley Battin had 10 points, including a huge 3 late in the game to give Utah a 6 point lead, which would evaporate pretty quickly.
As mentioned, the Utes jumped out to a big lead early on behind the efforts of Gach, who came out attacking the Wildcats from jump. The Utes played controlled offense, being patient and moving the ball to find great shots in that opening half. The execution was such a high level for most of the night, and really helped Utah build the opening half double-digit lead, which UK did cut down to just 4 before half after an 8-0 run.
In the second half, the Utes continued their game plan of keeping the ball in the half court as much as possible, and they really threw a haymaker at UK by building that 17 point lead. A team like Kentucky wasn’t going to just roll over, and they picked up their pressure defense really disrupting the Utes and kept chipping away at the lead. Utah got a little sloppy with the ball, and they did end up with 17 turnovers on the game, which is way too high, and Kentucky really capitalized on those.
Where the game may have been won is on a Battin charge that was initially called against Battin in the paint, but after the review, the Utes were given the ball on what was actually an offensive foul. It was a bit dicey the next play getting the ball up court to force UK to foul to play the free throw game. Jones, who was a 90% free throw shooter, missed one of his two free throws making it more nerve racking than it needed to be. Fortunately, with the 3 point lead, the Utes were able to hold on after UK missed some threes at the end of the game that could have tied it.
Now the Utes move on to play a very good San Diego State team, and hopefully Jones’ ribs aren’t too sore after the fall he took tonight. But this is a great win, and a win that looks great on a resume and for the conference.
Finally. Utah beat Kentucky and Big Rick Majerus is throwing down a Crown Burger somewhere in celebration.