In an empty Huntsman Center, after losing a couple of games, the Utes opened their season with a conference foe for the first time in almost a century. For the first time in what seems like years, the Utes are returning a lot of their roster, and have a really well rounded roster. They got things off to a good start with a 76-62 win over the Huskies, and looked pretty sharp for much of the game - which for an opener I was pleasantly surprised.
Things did start a little slow for the Utes, as they couldn’t quite find the basket early on, and UW was able to hit some jumpers to open the game, but it was a 10-0 run that gave the Utes a 24-21, and they seemed to start to settle in. It took Alfonso Plummer some time to get his range figured out as well, as he came out of the gates cold, but he got his legs underneath him and he ended up the game with 21 points. Plummer is about as much of a green light as you’ll find when he’s on the floor, and that’s what the Utes will need. Utah led at the half, but a 13-2 run gave the Utes their double digit lead that they wouldn’t look back from.
Utah’s ball movement, and the lack of defensive length by UW in the patented zone that they run, led to some great opportunities for the Utes all over the floor. They stretched the lead out to 69-46 after an 18-0 run in that second half, and UW just didn’t have an answer. Utah got contributions from all over. Timmy Allen finished with 14 points, Mikael Jantunen had 10, freshman Pelle Larsson had eight points and seven assists, and will get a ton of action this year, and Branden Carlson had nine points of his own. Rylan Jones just drove the whole thing helping the Utes get 21 assists on 28 made baskets.
While UW isn’t a juggernaut right now, that is a nice win to start a season, especially after the COVID issues the team has dealt with the last few weeks.
Utah will host Idaho State next Tuesday in their next game, before playing BYU in Provo the following week.