In a shocker of a game, especially after the last week of performance, the Utes came out on Saturday and knocked off the No. 19 ranked USC Trojans at the Huntsman Center, getting their first win over a ranked opponent since they knocked off Kentucky a season ago.
The Utes were led by Alfonso Plummer and his 19 points, many coming big in the second half. Timmy Allen had 15, Ian Martinez had 10 and Pelle Larsson had 9 as well. Mikael Jantunen had 6 points and 7 rebounds in his first game back from international competition.
Things started pretty shaky for the Utes after scoring the first four points of the game. USC went on a 14-2 run to take a 16-8 lead, and it looked like USC’s size and athleticism was going to overwhelm the Utes. The Utes, however, did a nice job just chipping away at USC’s lead, creeping back into the game. The Trojans had 20 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, and Utah was able to hold them to just nine the rest of the half. Martinez continues to emerge as a primary player on this team as a freshman, and his athleticism really countered USC’s, and his three point play, and some free throws by Allen got the game square at 25, after I was wondering if it may get ugly. Utah went into the locker room down just two at 29-27.
Utah came out of the locker room strong with an 8-0 with a Larsson three, and a Timmy Allen three point play, plus another bucket. Utah was able to slowly to build up a double digit lead, after some sloppy ball handling, but they were able to keep USC in check the entire half. USC did make a run, when it seems like maybe their offense had woken up a little bit, but then the Utes got hot from deep. Plummer was the ringleader with his 11 straight points, including the three straight threes that he hit to give the Utes a 13 point lead with two minutes left in the game. Carlson, Martinez and Larsson all hit timely threes to keep USC at bay. Utah’s offense was about as good as we have seen in that second half, shooting almost 59%. and going 7 of 9 from three. Conversely, USC only shot 32% in that second half, and was only 2 of 13 from three for the game. Utah not allowing USC to get into the open court was huge, with only the 15 turnovers, and very few live ball turnovers. This was a lot like the Oregon game, but the Utes were able to finish the deal this time.
Utah is now 38-38 all-time vs. AP ranked teams at home and 4-7 (.364) vs. #19-ranked AP teams … Utes held USC big man Evan Mobley to just 11 points on 2-of-7 shooting while seven of his points came from the free throw line – six of which came late in the second half ... Utah only gave up 13 second-chance points despite giving USC 18 offensive boards … despite USC being one of the tallest teams in the country, Utah had seven blocks to USC’s two – three of which came from Branden Carlson … Utah also assisted on 19-of-27 made field goals.
Utah remains at home and will wrap up the regular-season next week as they welcome in Oregon State (March 3) and Arizona State (March 6) for a pair of make-up games from earlier this season. Utes and Beavers will tip off at 5 p.m. (MT) on ESPNU