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3 keys to the Runnin’ Utes’ 86-55 win over Bethune-Cookman

David Jenkins Jr. busts out in a big way with a season-high 25 points and Craig Smith becomes the first Utah coach to go 3-0 since Jerry Pimm in 1974

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Utah forward Dusan Mahorcic (21) battles for the ball with a pair of Bethune-Cookman Wildcats in Salt Lake City.

Utah Utes forward Bostyn Holt (3), Bethune-Cookman Wildcats center Dylan Robertson (22), Utah Utes forward Dusan Mahorcic (21) and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats forward Jonathan Bolden (21) reach for the rebound during a mens basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Craig Smith became the first University of Utah men’s basketball coach to get off to a 3-0 start in his Utes career since Jerry Pimm in 1974, as Utah posted an 86-55 win over Bethune-Cookman in the opening round of the Sunshine Slam basketball tournament on Monday night inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Here are three keys to the Runnin’ Utes’ victory:

• Simply showing up was the first step, as the vastly superior Utes jumped out to a 45-23 halftime lead and cruised to their third-straight blowout win in front of a small crowd on a Monday night. Visiting Bethune-Cookman scored first, then gave up a 3-pointer to Riley Battin and Utah never trailed again.

• UNLV transfer David Jenkins Jr. showed what all the hype was about when he joined the Utes last spring, scoring 20 of his season- and game-high 25 points in the first half on 5 of 7 shooting from the 3-point line and 5 of 5 shooting from the free-throw line. He added another triple in the second half and was 6 of 9 from beyond the arc.

• Utah’s defense showed up in a big way against the overmatched team from Daytona Beach, Florida, holding the Wildcats to 24% shooting in the first half. Play got a bit ragged in the second half, as Utah started looking forward to its second-round game Saturday against Boston College in Daytona Beach, Florida.