With plenty of points from both teams, the Utes took care of the Montana State Bobcats 92-84 on Dec. 1 in a home win at the Huntsman Center.
The win marked coach Larry Krystkowiak’s 100th victory during his tenure with Utah.
Forward Kyle Kuzma, who nearly earned himself the first triple-double in the last 17 seasons of Ute basketball, was dominant for Utah with 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.
Speaking of complete games, guard Lorenzo Bonam earned 12 points, four rebounds, four blocks, three assists and three steals.
Freshman Devon Daniels was the high scorer for Utah with 18 points.
Juniors Tyler Rawson and JoJo Zamora both had excellent outings off the bench, scoring 17 and 15 respectively.
Sophomore Tyler Hall and his 22 points led Montana State, and senior Quinton Everett chipped in with 21 points.
Why Utah won
Utah was dominant on the boards. The Utes won the rebounding battle 51-31. Utah was also able to secure 19 offensive rebounds while holding the Bobcats to just 12 offensive boards. Utah was also able to earn some free points at the free-throw line. Utah finished the game 23-30 from the charity stripe. Getting to the line and converting easy points always helps in a shootout like this one.
The turning point
With 15 minutes left in the game, the Bobcats hit a 3-pointer to cut the Utes' lead to three points. In the following possession, Kuzma grabbed an offensive rebound and was quickly fouled on his put-back attempt. In the ensuing three minutes of the game, Kuzma was able to contribute without putting the ball through the net. He grabbed two big rebounds and dished out four crucial assists to help the Utes build a double-digit lead. The Utes were able to keep the game out of reach and have a relatively stress-free victory. That stretch of game really shows the impact Kuzma has with this team. His ability to be a factor without scoring is a vital asset that the Utes will need this season.
What it means
This game showed Utah’s scoring depth. Six players were able to get double-digit points, and Utah has now scored at least 90 points in three of its first six games.
Grading the performances
While Utah was able to secure the victory, Ute fans cannot be too happy about this one. Utah lost the turnover battle with 17 for the game. Utah was also poor from the 3-point line; the Utes shot 5-19 from behind the arc. Utah will have to secure the ball and find ways to shoot the ball in from deep in order to be successful down the road.
The Bobcats have to be excited about this game. With two of their three losses coming against Pac-12 teams by a total of 12 points, the Bobcats are looking like they are a force to be reckoned with in the Big Sky. If the Bobcats can continue to shoot the ball in from deep (52 percent) and score points like they have in the first eight games (83.5 ppg), they should have a successful season.
Three telling stats
Even with the poor shooting from behind the arc, Utah was still able to finish with a shooting percentage of 48.5 percent.
Utah’s 21 assists were refreshing to see. After its first loss of the season to Butler, the Utes were able to bounce back and get a nice victory. During the Butler game, Utah had only four assists. It is nice to see the Utes share the ball and get everyone involved.
Allowing 84 points against the Bobcats was alarming. Utah had not allowed more than 70 in any of the prior games. Utah will need to be better defensively if it hopes to be successful on the year.
Utah will host Utah Valley University on Tuesday, Dec. 6. UVU has already shown that it can score points against Utah teams. It was able to pull the upset on BYU in a 114-101 shootout in Provo.
UVU brings a high-scoring offense and a high-scoring defense. Look for another shootout on Tuesday.
Cameron Wood is a graduate of Weber State University and a teacher and coach at St. Joseph Catholic High School in Ogden, Utah. Email: email@example.com. Follow on twitter @camwood03.