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Lobos can’t handle Bogut

UNM overwhelmed as sophomore gets U. off to strong start

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Utah's Justin Hawkins, left, defends against New Mexico's Alfred Neale during the Utes' win over the Lobos.

Utah’s Justin Hawkins, left, defends against New Mexico’s Alfred Neale during the Utes’ win over the Lobos.

Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News

For awhile there, it looked as if Andrew Bogut was going to beat New Mexico all by himself Saturday afternoon.

A little more than halfway through the first half, the score was Bogut 18, New Mexico 12 as the Ute big man made the Lobos look like a junior high team. Would the 7-foot Aussie go for 50?

Nope. Eventually the Lobos decided to guard Bogut, but then Bryant Markson, Tim Drisdom, Justin Hawkins & Co. picked up the slack for the Utes, who rolled to a 69-58 victory at the Huntsman Center.

With the win, the Utes stayed atop the Mountain West Conference standings at 4-0 and improved to 16-3 overall, while the Lobos fell to 1-2 and 14-4. The Utes play 3-0 Air Force Monday night in a battle of unbeatens.

Bogut only scored six points over the final 28 minutes of the game but still finished with a game-high 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting and a career-high 20 rebounds. He also blocked three shots, leveled a poor New Mexico player on a screen and thrilled the crowd by swatting away consecutive inbound passes under the basket.

"He continues to amaze us all," said Ute coach Ray Giacoletti.

Besides Bogut's big game, Markson continued his excellent play of late with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while Hawkins had his best game in a month with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

Then there was Drisdom, who garnered as much praise as anyone from Giacoletti afterward, despite scoring just two points.

"The guy I thought was (great) was Tim," Giacoletti said. "He was so strong with the basketball and had eight assists. He talks constantly and gets us into things. . . . I thought he was the difference."

Drisdom finished with eight assists, mostly going to Bogut inside, and just one turnover as he directed the Ute offense almost flawlessly.

Marc Jackson also didn't score much, with just five points on the day, but he added five assists and three steals and contributed another strong defensive effort.

The Lobos played without Danny Granger, the second-leading scorer and rebounder in the MWC, who had surgery on his knee two weeks ago. The Lobos never said he wouldn't play in order to make the Utes prepare to face him, which they did all week. Granger even dressed for the game, and the Utes didn't know he wouldn't play until the starting lineups were announced and Granger stayed seated on the bench.

Utah's offensive strategy was simple — get the ball into Bogut. He scored 18 of the Utes' first 19 points as the Lobos' zone didn't adjust for the 7-footer.

"My teammates just got me the ball when I was open," Bogut said.

"I got good position and basically it was over every time in the first half. It was pretty easy to score until they made some adjustments in the second half."

After getting 18 points and 12 rebounds in the first half when the Utes led 35-27, Bogut found the Lobos fronting him more in the second half.

That freed up Markson, who scored three early baskets in the first half, and Hawkins, who hit a pair of inside shots to push the Ute lead to 47-34,

The Lobos got within eight, when Troy DeVries, who led his team with 10 points, sank a 3-pointer to make it 57-49 with 4:44 left. However, Markson drove the middle and was fouled for a three-point play, and then Bogut followed with an inside shot to push the lead back to 13.

Next up for the Utes is Air Force, which stayed on Utah's heels at 3-0 with a win over BYU Saturday. The Utes and Falcons meet Monday at 7 p.m.

GAME NOTES: The crowd of 12,031 at the Huntsman Center was the largest of the season . . . Bogut became only the ninth player in Ute history to grab at least 20 rebounds in a game and the first since Josh Grant in 1993. He also is the first since Tom Chambers in 1979 to have at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game and the fourth in Utah history . . . Richard Chaney (see sidebar) played for the first time in a month and finished with seven points in 17 minutes . . . The Utes, who are third in the nation in field goal shooting, shot 62.8 percent for the game . . . Meanwhile, the Lobos, who were No. 1 in the nation, managed only 39.6 percent shooting . . . The Lobos also shot just 8 of 19 from the free-throw line, while Utah sank 14 of 20 . . . Utah outrebounded New Mexico 36 to 23 . . . Utah has now beaten the Lobos 16 consecutive years at the Huntsman Center . . . The Utes and Lobos play at Albuquerque, N.M., on Feb. 21.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com