Ugly Offense Aside, U Men Still Get Win

Even without two starters?injured center Chris Burgess and suspended point guard Travis Spivey?the Utah men’s basketball team (10-3) did just enough in Moraga, Calif., Monday night to squeak by the St. Mary’s Gaels (5-8) by the score of 41-35.

Spivey, a senior in his second year at the U, received a one game suspension for a violation of team conduct rules. Spivey did not make the trip because of a reported argument with coach Rick Majerus during practice last week. Spivey’s future is uncertain.

“When and if he’s going to return to the team is still to be determined,” Majerus said.

On the hardwood, Utah won its seventh straight game with its best defensive effort of the Majerus era. The 35 points by St. Mary’s broke the 36 points scored by Wichita State in Utah’s 58-36 win on Dec. 21, 1991.

“If you like defense, tonight was a great game,” Majerus said.

Utah held St. Mary’s to 13 47 (28 percent) from the field in the game, forcing 20 Gael turnovers. St. Mary’s was 2 17 (12 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.

As good as the Utes were on defense, the lowest offensive output in Majerus’s 13 seasons kept the game close.

“Offensively, we played without any rhythm or flow,” he said.

Without Spivey, the ball control sputtered. Spivey’s replacement, freshman Eric Osmundson, struggled in his first collegiate start. Osmundson, a shooting guard, committed 6 of Utah’s 20 turnovers.

Utah jumped out to an 11-3 lead, but trailed 19-18 with 1:04 left in the first half after a layup by Anthony Woodards. A free throw by Lance Allred tied the score at 19 at the half.

St. Mary’s built a 26-21 advantage five minutes into the second half, but Utah responded. Utah went on a 7-0 run, capped by a Jeff Johnsen dunk, to lead 28-26.

The Gaels took the lead, but were tied again with Utah with 5:39 to go. The Utes then went on a 9-3 run to close the game, led by three free throws in the final 31 seconds by freshman Martin Osimani.

Jeff Johnsen led all Utes with 11 and Jacobson added 9, but Majerus summed up the evening: “God knows how many layups we missed,” he said.

The indecision at center continued for the U. With Burgess out for at least a month with a torn foot ligament, an ailed Lance Allred got his second straight start, collecting 5 points and 2 rebounds in 19 minutes.

Phil Cullen played 27 minutes at center, posting 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 points. Six foot-11 junior Cameron Koford remained in the doghouse. Despite being the only true active center, Koford played just seven minutes.

Utah was outrebounded for the second consecutive game by an undersized school. After being outboarded 32-21 against Whitworth, the Utes were on the short end of a 34 31 clip Monday night.

The game with the Gaels was the last of Utah’s non conference schedule. The men’s basketball team now readies itself to host MWC opponent UNLV Jan. 12.

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