If you flocked to the BYU-Utah basketball game hoping for a repeat performance of last year’s entertaining event like I did, you most likely left the arena quite disappointed. If all you wanted was to see a BYU win, you got your wish.
The BYU men’s basketball team marched into the Huntsman Center on Saturday afternoon and came away with a decisive 61-42 victory. BYU had a sloppy start to the game, blowing a couple of layups and turning the ball over uncharacteristically. Credit goes to the Ute defense, who played the Cougars tough and forced them to earn every basket.
BYU fans were restless five minutes in to the game when the Ute student section could be heard chanting, “Not in our house”, no doubt hopeful of their 5-1 lead. Although overmatched in talent, Utah was not backing down physically. Utah forward Dijon Farr played Noah Hartsock of the Cougars very tight defensively, giving him nothing easy in the paint. Luckily for BYU, Farr picked up his second foul with 13:16 left in the first half, and the Cougars were able to capitalize. Nate Austin and Craig Cusik both came off the bench to nail first half threes and give the Cougars the spark they needed. BYU ended the half on a 20-12 run, heading into the break with a 25-17 lead.
During the game, Cusik was getting beat consistently to the hole, forcing BYU coach Dave Rose to make some defensive adjustments. Rose plugged in Charles Abouo who was able to stop Utah’s penetration.
Fans could be heard yelling “Boring” as Utah’s offensive strategy was lulling many to sleep. Utah could have put Lunesta (the sleeping pill) out of business. Utah’s strategy from the get-go was obvious, they played to not lose big. Coach Krystkowiak had his Utes posses the ball for 30 seconds each possession, and then work for a shot in the last 5 seconds of the shot clock. It kept the game close, but is definitely not the solution if Utah wants to fill up the Hunstman Center.
For the Cougars, game balls go to Hartsock (19 points and 7 rebounds), Charles Abouo (11 points and 6 rebounds), and Craig Cusik (10 points and 6 assists). Anson Winder, Stephen Rogers, and Brandon Davies struggled for the Cougars.
Utah was led by Josh Watkins (14 points and 5 assists), Cedric Martin (10 points and 3 rebounds), and Dijon Farr (7 rebounds and 2 steals).