Provo--All season long, the University of Utah's Runnin' Utes had pulled out come-from behind victories with nerves of steel, so what was happening to old Team Together in Provo Saturday night? There was Josh Grant -- the Utes' coolest hand -- missing a free throw with six minutes to go in regulation. There was Grant again missing two more free throws in overtime. The last one came with the Utes on top 72-71 and 34 seconds left in the game -- and gave BYU one more chance to win it. After BYU's Ken Roberts threw away a pass with five seconds left, Utah seemed to have the game in hand, but wait. The Utes's cool desserted them again. Byron Wilson was whistled for a five-second call on the in-bounds pass, and BYU got one more try. This time Mark Santiago missed form the wing, leaving Utah a winner agian, 72-71 in over time. "We were lucky," said Utah coach Rick Majerus coming off the floor, sweat running off his face. But no one was sweating out the final seconds more than Grant. After missing his last foul shot, he came to the bench looking at his shoes. "Get your head up, Josh," Majerus told him. Said Grand, "I was thinking, `What the heck am I doing choking like that.' And it wasn't just one tonight." In the end, of course, the Utes prevailed, and Grant, as usual, played a big role in the ourcome. He covered BYU's 7-foot-6 Shawn Bradley, just as he had in their first matchup two weeks ago. In round I, Bradley collected 20 points and 10 rebounds. Not this time. Grand held him to just 6 points and 2 rebounds in Round II. Tellingly, during crunch-time, Bradley was on the bench, not on the court. Grant, in the meantime, finished with 17 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, plus 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 5 turnovers. As Grant was running off the courst, one woman yelled, "You're low class." "I don't want to say anything that anyone will think is low class," Grant said to reporters afterward. But Grant had plenty to say on the court. In the second half he caught a pass from Watts in full stride, left earth somewhere just inside the foul line and delivered a resounding, one-handed windmill dunk -- over Bradley. "That's two on you!" Grant barked at Bradley as they ran up the floor. Grant, who is 6-foot-10, was refering to a nearly identical dunk he performed over Bradley in their first meeting two weeks ago. " I did it because I've been saying all year long I could do it, and I had to try it," Grant explained at the time. Thanks to the play of Grant and his buddy/teammate Jimmy Soto, plus Walter Watts -- the tallest, shortest and heaviest of the Utes -- the Utes finished the regular season winners again, which seemed only fitting for the Western Atheltic Conference champions. They ended up winning the WAC going away. The Cougars, 17-12 overall, 11-5 in league play, finished in second place -- four games behind the Utes. As for the nonth-ranked Utes, they finish the regular season with a record of 26-2 overall, 15-1 in WAC play. Chalk up more records. The Utes tied a 41-year-old school record for vitories in a season and broke the conference record for WAC victories in a season. Curiously, Saturday night's game marked the 15th time this season the Utes have trailed in the second half. They have won 13 of them. On Saturday night, Soto, 5-foot-7 and some change, delivered 12 points, hitting 5 of 8 shots. Watts, the Utes' 6-foot-8, 260-pound center, finished with 15 points. "It was a great game," said Majerus. "I just told the players it was a great honor to be the only team in the WAC ever to win 15 games. It's really something for the players. It's something they'll probably take to their graves."
UTAH BREAKS WAC RECORD FOR VICTORIES IN 1 SEASON
By Deseret News