It’s certainly been a wild week for Deivon Smith, Craig Smith and the rest of Utah’s basketball team.

After a 14-day temporary restraining order by Judge John P. Bailey in West Virginia in a lawsuit filed against the NCAA looked like it would open the door for two-time transfers like Deivon Smith to immediately play over the next two weeks, the NCAA clarified a day later that any game played in those two weeks would count against eligibility if the ruling was overturned.

Deivon Smith went from likely to play on Wednesday to it not being worth the risk on Thursday.

On Friday, however, the final word came down from the NCAA after the temporary restraining order was converted to an injunction that will be in place through the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

Two-time transfers who were either waiting on a transfer waiver or were denied a transfer waiver are allowed to play for the rest of the season.

Deivon Smith transferred from Georgia Tech to Utah in May after the Jackets parted ways with coach Josh Pastner. It was Deivon Smith’s second transfer of his career — he transferred from Mississippi State to Georgia Tech after his freshman season — but since he transferred after a coaching change at Georgia Tech, a waiver from the NCAA seemed like it had a chance to be granted. However, the waiver was denied on Dec. 4.

Friday’s ruling from the NCAA was a huge relief for Deivon Smith, who was cleared to play once and for all in Utah’s 76-62 win over Utah Valley on Saturday.

“Honestly, it’s been all over, a lot of ups and downs of course, but just today in the moment, it was just a great moment to be on my team. I had great support from the coaches, staff players, and it just felt great to be out there,” he said.

With about 11 minutes remaining in the first half, Deivon Smith checked into the game for the first time as a Runnin’ Ute to an ovation from the Huntsman Center faithful.

“I hadn’t played a game since last February, but just to come to a new home, a new place, and feel so welcome and see people that actually want to see me play, it was just a blessing. I’m super, super thankful for the moment,” he said.

Deivon Smith got the ball right out of the timeout, bringing it up the floor. In the first half especially, he was the primary ball handler with the second string players, but he played mostly off ball in the second half.

The 6-foot, 173-pound guard has been practicing with the team, but having not played in game action since Feb. 11, it was expected that there would be some rust to knock off.

Utah eased him back into game action — he played 11 minutes total; seven minutes in the first half and four in the second half — but that rust was apparent in his first action. Deivon Smith finished the night with no points, two assists and one steal while shooting 0 for 2 from the field.

All of this wasn’t a surprise since he hasn’t played with this team in a game yet.

“Kudos to Deivon on the professionalism he had, the way he handled it. I thought he did some really good things defensively. I thought offensively he was a little tentative, which guys, that’s to be expected,” Utes coach Craig Smith said.

Great on-ball defense led to a steal and an assist to Cole Bajema on a fast break less than three minutes after Deivon Smith got on the floor for the first time. He had another assist shortly before the halftime break, finding Branden Carlson for a hook shot to increase Utah’s lead to six.

3 takeways from Utah’s win over UVU
Utah’s Deivon Smith and BYU’s Marcus Adams Jr. now eligible to play for remainder of season

His on-ball defense stood out throughout the game. At one point in the first half, he earned an ovation from the Huntsman Center crowd after tenacious defense forced his man to pass the ball.

The rest of Deivon Smith’s game — the speed and excitement when he pushes the ball, the athleticism, the comfort running the offense and the scoring — will come in time.

“I’m not really worried about this game, I think once I definitely get comfortable and we get our chemistry together, then we’re going to be a really, really good team,” he said.

Elsewhere for the Utes in the leadup to the game, center Keba Keita wasn’t able to participate in practice all week after Monday due to being sick and center Ben Carlson also sat out Utah’s Friday practice due to illness. Utah was also missing guard Luka Tarlac due to illness.

Ben Carlson gutted through it, scoring two points in 13 minutes. Keita also powered through, with nine points, three rebounds, a block and a steal in 10 minutes of play, but fouled out with 2:43 left on what looked to be a clean block.

Keita adds a different dimension to this Utah team when he’s playing well, and he did so again on Saturday afternoon.

“He just went out there and he impacted the game, played 10 minutes, we were plus-15,” Craig Smith said. “So he played with a lot of force. Obviously he fouled out, played with a lot of force though, and truly impacted that game. Not just from a physicality standpoint, but an energy standpoint.”

In its second-to-last nonconference game before Pac-12 play begins, Utah started sluggish as UVU led by as many as eight points in the first seven minutes of the first half.

“They really dictated out of the gate. I thought the first nine, 10 minutes they really took it to us and played with a ton of force,” Craig Smith said.

A Branden Carlson 3-pointer and a pair or dunks by Keita helped calm Utah down. The Wolverines held the lead until 4:45 left in the half, when Branden Carlson had a layup to tie it and a dunk to take the lead. Rollie Worster and Branden Carlson followed that up with 3-pointers to cap a 10-0 Utah run.

Utah wouldn’t surrender the lead the rest of the way, though UVU made things interesting at the end of the game, chopping a 12-point Utah lead down to five with 2:43 left, led by Drake Allen and Osiris Grady.

Trevin Dorius’ free-throw make with 2:43 would be the final time the Wolverines would score, as Utah closed the contest on a 9-0 run. Branden Carlson scored four points in the finish, while Gabe Madsen contributed a 3-pointer and Rollie Worster scored a pull-up jumper.

“The last 30 minutes of the game, we really guarded well,” Craig Smith said.

Branden Carlson led the Utes with 26 points in the win, while Madsen and Worster scored 13 points apiece.

Utah plays Bellarmine on Wednesday at the Huntsman Center to close out nonconference play.