3 keys in the Runnin’ Utes’ 70-56 win over Abilene Christian in new coach Craig Smith’s debut
UNLV transfer David Jenkins Jr. scores 15 points and Utah uses a big rebounding advantage to rout the Southland Conference preseason favorite
Craig Smith’s first official game as the Runnin’ Utes head coach went swimmingly well, as Utah posted an almost wire-to-wire 70-56 win over Abilene Christian on Tuesday at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in the season opener for both teams.
Here are three keys to the Runnin’ Utes’ victory:
• The Utes got a 3-pointer from UNLV transfer David Jenkins Jr. on their fourth trip down the floor to take a 3-2 lead and led the rest of the way against the Southland Conference favorite that won an NCAA Tournament game over Texas last year, never letting the visiting Wildcats garner much momentum or confidence.
• Jenkins and fellow starter Branden Carlson combined for 29 points and the same five who started against Westminster last week — Jenkins, Carlson, Marco Anthony, Riley Battin and Rollie Worster — started again Tuesday night. Carlson also added nine rebounds before fouling out.
• Utah overcame 20 turnovers and used a 55-29 rebounding advantage to open the 2021-22 season on a winning note. The Runnin’ Utes will play host to Sacramento State of the Big Sky Conference on Saturday.