No one was star-gazing during Team USA's 123-106 win over Team Utah Saturday at Salt Lake Community College - there wasn't time.
Led by Long Beach State-bound Mike Batiste, who scored a game-high 28 points, the visiting college prospects capitalized on a quick pace in distancing themselves from a collection of Utah all-state seniors in an exhibition tilt."We weren't in awe of anybody," said Utah coach Kevin Dustin. "They were more athletic. Sometimes we just couldn't get to them."
Las Vegas product Kenyatta Clyde finished with 25 points, including a collection of hammer dunks, and Memphis State recruit Dorian Davis added 20 for the victors. Highland's Todd Christensen led Utah with 27 with Brad Willden of Alta contributing 16.
"We were confident in ourselves," said Christensen. " We weren't sure we could beat them, but we knew we could give them a game."
Utah opened the contest with a 5-0 run in taking its largest lead just 45 seconds into the tilt. However, Team USA eventually took control and built a 60-46 halftime edge.
"Second shots killed us," said Christensen. "They are just so strong underneath."
Sporting five players over 6-foot-5, Team USA dominated the boards - though the undersized Utahns did have their moments in the second half.
And it all began from the outside with seven three-point shots finding the mark. Three (one by Christensen and two from Jeremy Jeppesen of Viewmont) fell in an 11-2 Utah run which closed the deficit to 77-71 with 13 minutes to play, but Team USA found a way to maintain its edge and regained a double-figure advantage. Utah made its final run midway through the second half, but could draw no closer than 94-87 with 8:47 to play. Bursts of 14-5 and 8-2 down the stretch left no doubt as to the outcome.
"Every time we got within shooting distance we got a bad break," said Dustin. "Most of the time we battled, we just weren't as athletic or as big."
All 12 Utah players scored in the contest with Jeppesen and Hunter's Cory Reiser joining Christensen and Willden in double-figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Arizona State signee Rico Harris and Nebraska-bound Tyronn Lue scored 17 and 11 for Team USA. Colorado all-stater Sean Kelly, who signed a letter of intent with BYU, dressed but did not play after spraining his ankle in a practice Friday.