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.