The baby Utes got a nice win to open Pac-12 play at the Huntsman Center, with a 81-69 win over Oregon State. The Utes are now 1-0 in Pac-12 play, and 10-3 overall, and are building something nice with this young group.
The Utes were led by Timmy Allen who had 25 points on the night, to go along with 10 rebounds. I gotta say, it will play out more as conference play goes along, but Allen may be the No. 1 guy I wasn’t sure the Utes needed. Time-and-time again in the opening half of play on Thursday night, he attacked Oregon State and took guy-after-guy to the basket and scored. He really got the Utes offense going, and kept it on balance for a majority of the night. After the Utes fell down early and rallied to take the lead, they never really looked back, leading by as many as 15. Both Gach had very nice game too with 17 points on 50% shooting from the floor and three point range. He also had 6 rebounds, and just the 2 assists. Rylan Jones kept everything rolling for the Utes with his 14 points and 5 assists, and just refuses to look like a true freshman point guard out there. He is so calm and keeps things in line for the Utah offense, and is the true point guard the Utes have been craving.
Utah struggled in the opening half with turnovers, but really got it under control with just 11 for the game, which is a great number. They didn’t shoot really great, especially in the opening and closing of the game, just shooting 43% from the floor, but they clamped down on OSU nicely, giving up just 38% from the floor from the Beavs and just 3 of 21 from three point range.
Utah really had a good strangle hold on this game for much of it, and I think Oregon State may really threaten, but it never really came to pass. Sure, they rallied a bit in the second half, and got to within three, but the way Utah was sharing the ball and finding the open guy, I had no concerns that Oregon State would be able to come back and take the lead at any point.
This Utah team won't win a league title this season, but you can see the potential of this team going forward, especially how well they play together. Coach K and staff has done a great job rebuilding this roster, and have already exceeded my expectations, at least to this point.
Next up for the Utes are the No. 4 Oregon Ducks at the Huntsman. Oregon is coming off a loss to CU on Thursday, so you know they’re going to be extra focused. The question for Utah is how will they handle Oregon’s pressing style defense, and their athleticism. Oregon has had Utah’s number ever since they joined the league, so it will be a huge test for this young squad to go against the presumed conference champs.