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Utah notes: Poeltl single-handedly outrebounds Fresno State

DENVER — Utah center Jakob Poeltl was the chairman of the boards in Thursday’s 80-69 NCAA Tournament victory over Fresno State. He cleaned the glass with extreme efficiency — pulling down 18 on a night when the opposition as a whole grabbed just 15.

“It wasn’t especially because we played against a smaller team. I just try to go the game and be aggressive,” said Poeltl, who noted that he boosted the numbers a bit by missing some easy shots and getting his own rebounds. “I really just try to be aggressive and go for every board.”

Starting forward Kyle Kuzma wound up with just two.

“I tried to go in there and rebound and I couldn’t get any because he was right there taking them all,” he said of Poeltl. “That was an impressive performance on his part.”

Kuzma added it was “phenomenal” when you also factor in the 7-foot sophomore’s 16 points.

“I’m just proud of him,” Kuzma said. “He played real hard for 40 minutes or whatever minutes he was in the game.”

Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris, who finished with a game-high 24 points, acknowledged that Poeltl made quite an impact.

“He’s a great player. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us,” Harris said. “We knew trying to jump up and use athleticism wasn’t going to be enough against him. You have to put a body on him. It was a tough matchup for us.”

ONE AND DONE: Former Salt Lake City resident Caleb Swanigan, the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year, and the fifth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers were ousted from the tournament just prior to the Utah game. They dropped an 85-83 double-overtime decision to 12th-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock. The Purdue forward finished with six points and 10 rebounds.

WINTER WONDERLAND: The National Weather Service issued an advisory for the metro Denver area Thursday afternoon as a winter storm brought snow. Up to six inches is expected over the next day or so.

EXTRA STUFF: Utah is now 21-8 in NCAA Tournament openers with an average win margin of 4.3 points. … Former U. standout Keith Van Horn attended the game and was asked by someone if he was Krystkowiak’s brother. … Senior guard Brandon Taylor finished with a team-high six assists and four steals. … The game featured two conference players of the year in Poeltl (Pac-12) and Harris (Mountain West).


Twitter: @DirkFacer