‘He taught me to be a dog’: Alfonso Plummer credits father’s guidance after second-half scoring spree spurs Utah’s upset of Colorado
Runnin’ Utes trailed Colorado Buffaloes by 19 points in the second half before Plummer and his teammates rallied back to hand the home team a stunning loss
That phone call Utes guard Alfonso Plummer receives from his father after every game is going to be a little more joyful than usual this time.
Plummer, the 6-foot-1 senior from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, by way of Arizona Western College almost singlehandedly gave the struggling Utes a 77-74 upset win over Colorado on Saturday afternoon at CU Events Center in Boulder, Colorado.
As he described how he scored all 23 of his points in the second half to help Utah (7-7, 4-6 Pac-12) overcome a 19-point deficit with under nine minutes remaining, Plummer mentioned that he was able to keep his head in the game despite not scoring at all in the first half because that’s what his father, Rénan Plummer, taught him to do.
“My dad’s words always stay with me. Every time we went into (a game), I feel like my dad is in the (stands) screaming, ‘Hey, play hard, don’t quit.’ The reason I am playing is because of my dad. He (taught) me how to be a dog. And every time on the court, I show out for my dad. That’s what I did.” — Utah guard Alfonso Plummer.
“Yeah, he probably is going to call me in like, 10 minutes,” the player teammates refer to as “Fons” said as he participated in a Zoom call from Utah’s bus a half-hour or so after one of the best single-half performances in school history. “He always watches the game. He is never satisfied. I could score 40, and he could find something to say I could get better at.
For him, it is not, ‘good game.’ It is like, ‘here’s a step to keep getting better.’”
A starter until the Jan. 9 loss to Oregon, Plummer entered the game with 14 minutes, 33 seconds remaining in the first half and Utah trailing 11-8. But he picked up an offensive foul the first time he touched the ball, then got a defensive foul seconds later and promptly headed to the bench, not to be seen again until after the first stoppage of the second half.
His first basket came with 14:10 remaining, but he missed his next three attempts. Shortly after Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak picked up a technical foul and the Utes fell behind 65-46, Fons caught fire.
“Our guys didn’t quit. Fons came in and hit a bunch of big shots,” Krystkowiak said. “We are not going to throw in the towel until we are certain that we don’t have a chance, and there was plenty of optimism along the way.”
Fueled by Fons.
Plummer’s 3-pointer from the wing in front of Utah’s bench with 3:25 left tied the game at 69-69, and his subsequent free throw gave the visitors the lead. His driving layup moments later completed a 21-2 Utah run.
“My dad’s words always stay with me,” Plummer said. “Every time we went into (a game), I feel like my dad is in the (stands) screaming, ‘Hey, play hard, don’t quit.’ The reason I am playing is because of my dad. He (taught) me how to be a dog. And every time on the court, I show out for my dad. That’s what I did.”
The shooting display was reminiscent of the Pac-12 Tournament game last March when Plummer hit a tournament-record 11 3-pointers en route to 35 points. Plummer finished shooting 8 of 13 from the field, 4 of 6 from the 3-point line and 3 of 3 from the free-throw line.
“For sure a flashback,” Plummer said. “People were calling it deja vu, so yeah, it (was similar).”