U. survives scare

14 Aug 2020 admin

first_img Langvad gives Utes spark off the bench E-mail: sor@desnews.com DENVER — So much for all this talk about Utah not being able to get off to a quick start.The Utes solved that problem Friday night against UNLV by jumping out to a 22-point lead. The problem was the Utes almost forgot to finish the deal.Although they improved to 27-4 on the season, the Utes had to hold on for dear life against the hard-charging Rebels to escape with a 73-67 victory at the Pepsi Center.The victory moved the Utes into the finals of the Mountain West Conference tournament for the second straight year against the winner of Friday night’s late game between New Mexico and San Diego State.For the fourth straight year, the Utes played the Rebels in the MWC tourney, the third time in the semifinals. But just when it appeared the Utes were going to cruise to victory and have a chance to rest their starters for Saturday’s final, the Rebels put on a furious rally by scoring as many points in the second half (49) as Colorado State managed the whole game the day before.Behind hot-shooting Romel Beck, the Rebels nearly erased Utah’s 22-point lead and cut the margin to three points three times in the final six minutes, However, the Utes found enough composure to hold on for the scary victory.”We were able to find a way to get it done,” said Utah coach Ray Giacoletti. “It sounds crazy, but we haven’t had to be in that situation a whole heckuva lot this year. But this time of year it doesn’t matter how pretty is as long as you have one more point on the scoreboard than the other team does.”The Utes have made a habit all year of playing a close first half and then going on a couple of second-half runs to win by a comfortable margin. This time they jumped out of the games quickly and went into halftime with a 14-point lead.”We got off to a good start,” said Andrew Bogut, who had his 21st double-double of the season with 25 points and 12 rebounds. “The media has been on us for three months about our first halves. We did this for you.”Thanks Andrew.But the second half the Utes came up with a new twist. Instead of expanding a small lead, they let a large lead dwindle to almost nothing.”In the second half we kind of relaxed and kind of got on our back foot and they came back,” Bogut said. “We had to scramble for that win at the end.”The Utes quickly expanded their 32-18 halftime lead to 22 points at 42-20 with 16:31 left in the game. The Rebels looked like they had already packed it in as they started off the second half with five turnovers, a missed shot and one make on their first seven possessions.But just like that, the Rebels couldn’t miss, scoring on six straight possessions, including three 3-pointers, over the next three minutes. That made it 50-35, but the Utes still didn’t seem too worried as Giacoletti left four of his starters on the bench.The coach acknowledged afterward that he was trying to rest his starters for tonight’s game.When Beck hit still another 3-pointer to make it 52-40 with 9:38 left, Giacoletti decided enough was enough and inserted Bogut, Marc Jackson, Hawkins and Markson back into the game, joining Tim Drisdom.However, the starters didn’t improve things much.Drisdom lost the ball, Markson missed a 3-pointer and Bogut missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Then Bogut missed an inside shot and was tied up and Hawkins had a short shot blocked. When Ricky Morgan scored inside, the Ute lead was down to 52-46 with 8:25 left.The Utes briefly pushed the lead to nine at 57-48, but the Rebels scored six straight points to cut it to 57-54 and it could have been two if Beck hadn’t missed a free throw after scoring inside.That’s when Giacoletti tried some odd strategy. He put his team in a 2-3 zone to keep the Rebels from beating the Utes one-on-one near the basket. When UNLV missed 3-pointers on three of their next four possessions, it looked like brilliant strategy as the Utes moved back to a 63-56 lead.”Certainly that had an effect,” said UNLV coach Lon Kruger.During the last two minutes, the Utes hit eight of 10 free throws and added a layup by Hawkins when he was left alone by the pressing Rebels and the Utes secured the win.”They panicked a little bit, but Utah’s a great team. We lost to the better team,” said UNLV’s Odartey Blankson, who scored 13 points.”They played 40 minutes of great basketball and we played about 12,” said Beck, who led his team with 19 points.Besides Bogut’s 25 points, Hawkins scored 14 points, Bryant Markson chipped in 12 and Jonas Langvad added 10. Langvad hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the first half to help the Utes to a double-digit lead. “You just can’t afford to dig yourselves that big of a hole against a team like Utah,” said Kruger. “I hope they play for a long time.” Related Lobos dispatch Aztecs, await matchup with Utes Utah-UNLV game at a glance Utes outshoot Cougars, reach women’s finalslast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *