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Runnin’ Utes keep holiday spirit in blowout win over Delaware State

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak wanted his team to incorporate the holiday spirit with his team on the court.

The No. 24 Runnin’ Utes did just that racking up 30 assists for the second time in three games, as Utah sailed past a winless Delaware State 105-58 Tuesday night at the Huntsman Center.

“One of the core parts of it is we’re taking ‘we’ shots not ‘me’ shots,” Krystkowiak said. “Right in the spirit of Christmas with the giving stuff. … That’s the way we need to play and we’re not going to do it individually.”

Six separate Utes finished with multiple assists, led by Isaiah Wright and Brandon Taylor, who each dished out six while center Jakob Poeltl picked up five assists in the first half alone.

“Coach has been on us about team play,” said Chris Reyes, who scored 12 points — the most he’s put up since joining the Utes. “Having 30 assists, you usually don’t see that from us. Thankfully coming into Christmas break, hopefully this carries on to when we come back for College of Idaho.”

In addition, four players finished in double figures in a wire-to-wire win over the Hornets. All but one player to check in the game scored.

"I think you have to give it all to our starters. They played well," forward Austin Montgomery, a typical reserve that put up a career-high 8 points, said. "When we're in and they cheer us on — we've got a lot of team chemistry that goes on. It's fun."

Utah opened the game with a Jordan Loveridge uncontested 3-pointer. DSU remained within reach until the Utes pulled together a 22-8 run midway through the first half to take a 34-17 lead with 8:32 left in the opening half.

The Utes pushed their lead to as much as 27 points with 1:52 left in the half, before taking a 52-26 halftime lead.

Utah continued to pull away in the second half, leading by as much as 53 points in the final minutes before settling with a 47-point win.

Utah (10-2) shot 62 percent from the floor, committed just nine turnovers and made a season-high 12 3-pointers. The Utes outrebounded the Hornets 48-23 and also held DSU to just 32 percent shooting from the field — the third-straight game Utah has held its opponent to less than 33 percent shooting from the floor.

"Defensively there's a lot of things we need to get dialed in and certainly the rebounding at the end of a defensive possession is probably one of the key components for us right now," Krystkowiak said. "That was one of the challenges for us tonight and we did a heck of a job. Shots were going up and you saw everybody blocking out. We did a heck of a job on the glass for the most part."

The Utes now head into Christmas break with a few days off. Utah will not practice again until Dec. 26, Krystkowiak said.

The Utes have one last tuneup before the Pac-12 season starts as they take on College of Idaho Monday.

"That kind of season one is over, we'll have one more game before New Year's, then it's on with a bunch of really good teams in this league," Krystkowiak said. "Kind of wipe the slate clean and see if we can improve. Some of the wins are there, but there are still a number of deficient areas that we need to shore up."