The first test for the new look Craig Smith led Utes had promising but disappointing results. The Utes fell to BYU at the Huntsman Center on Saturday night 75-64. The Utes were led by Branden Carlson’s 17 points, six rebounds, and three blocks. Rollie Worster had a nice game with 13 points and five assists. Lazar Stefanovic also had 12 points in the game.
Utah kept BYU at arm's length the first half, jumping out to a quick lead and kept a lead, but they let BYU hang around with their size and rebounding keeping possessions alive. Utah lost Dusan Mahorcic early in the game with a knee injury that didn’t look good. Without him and Marco Anthony in the game the Utes ability to clean the boards was really hindered. The Utes lost the rebounding battle in the game 45-28 and allowed BYU nine more shots on offense. Utah went into the half with a two-point lead, but it did feel like they were holding on for life because of their inability to keep BYU off the glass. Carlson and Worster were on the attack in that first half, and Carlson did make things uncomfortable for BYU’s bigs with his seven-foot frame. Utah did a really nice job defending in that opening half as well, holding the Cougars to 35% shooting.
In the second half, BYU made some adjustments and Utah went through a cold stretch that gave the Cougars the separation that they needed. Utah trailed by around 8-12 for much of the latter half of the second half, and when they had opportunities to cut it to within six the Utes just couldn’t hit the shots. David Jenkins found his range a little bit later in the game, finishing with just nine points.
As the Utes approach Pac-12 play the concern right now is depth and size. I’m guessing Mahorcic is done based on his reaction to his injury. Coach Smith said after the game that Anthony may not play against USC. If Utah doesn’t get some guys back with some size then rebounding is going to be tough. They also need to get consistency out of Jenkins. He was a non-factor in the first half of this game tonight.
Overall, I really like how this Utah team is playing and how they’re coached, the question is do they have the bodies. We’ll find out more in the next few weeks.