Utes pound Lobos

For the first time in three tries, the U basketball team got its 20th win of the season Monday night, completely demolishing the New Mexico Lobos, 73-43 which gives the Lobos their 25th consecutive road loss.

The Utes’ (20-7, 8-4 MWC) defense has been solid throughout the whole season. Monday night, the defense was absolutely impenetrable, especially in the first half, as it limited the New Mexico Lobos (13-11, 4-7 MWC) to only 22 first-half points.

“We came out with a lot of energy and were not down after losing that game to Air Force,” sophomore point guard Tim Drisdom said.

The Lobos could not get anything going, at least consistently, on any of their possessions, as the Utes dominated them in the paint, thanks in part to an impressive defensive job by the trio of Bryant Markson, Justin Hawkins and Richard Chaney.

“Those three did an absolutely amazing job containing [junior Danny Granger],” U head coach Kerry Rupp said.

Granger had 28 points against Utah in the two teams’ last meeting, but the three Utes limited him to only five first-half points, even though Markson and Hawkins were in constant foul trouble throughout the game.

Markson started the game instead of Chaney because Rupp said he felt it was the better matchup and so did Markson.

“They put me in there because they thought I could give him more trouble, and after looking at what he did, I think I did a pretty good job,” Markson said.

But it seemed that Granger was the only offensive threat to the Utes, and the Lobo offensive philosophy soon turned into getting the ball to Granger and hoping he scored.

It didn’t work.

Not only did the defense shut down the conference’s leading scorer, but it forced turnovers and allowed the offense to get into a flow.

Senior Nick Jacobson found his rhythm early in the game with 16 first-half points and seemed to be carrying the team. “Tonight, Nick was lights out,” Rupp said.

But in the second half, freshman Andrew Bogut came out with a splash and dominated the Lobos inside.

Bogut began the game with eight first half points and eight rebounds, but after four minutes of second-half play, he already had 17 points and 12 rebounds. He finished the game with 20 points and 14 boards.

“He was great and we tried to work the inside-out game with him, but most of the time the ball didn’t need to come back outside because was doing so well,” Rupp said.

En route to their largest victory of the season, the Utes used size to their advantage.

Senior center Tim Frost finished the game with 14 points, which was better than any Lobo player.

Jacobson, Bogut and Frost wwere the U’s only offensive threats, as the next-highest scorer only had six points. But it didn’t matter, as the team got all it needed from those three.

“We moved the ball well on offense, and when you have two or three direct passes in a row, you are going to have open shots, and that’s what we got tonight,” Rupp said.

The Lobos’ shot selection was dreadful and their offense remained stagnant in the second half. Granger kept pressuring the Ute defenders and drawing fouls, but Rupp kept the rotation going with Chaney, Markson and Hawkins on Granger. Granger finished the game with 12 points-which is eight below his average-on 4-of-11 shooting.

Jacobson kept up his hot shooting in the second half to extend the Ute lead to as many as 33 points, and the senior finished the game tying a career-high with 28 points in his last game at the Huntsman Center.

The Lobos were no match for the Utes, and throughout most of the night it seemed as though they just wanted the game to end as soon as possible. “One of the coaches asked Nick if we were going to be OK, and he told him to just get the game plan together because we are fighters,” Rupp said.

Jacobson and the rest of the teamed proved they could come back after a devastating loss, as they delivered one of the best performances in the home finale.

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