The weather up there

It may not have been the prettiest game, but the Runnin’ Utes got the job done. The U overcame 20 turnovers Saturday afternoon and routed Western State College 87-48 at the Huntsman Center.

In their second and final exhibition game of the season, Utah came out a bit sluggish, and had a difficult time with the diminutive Western State lineup.

“Sometimes it’s hard to play against smaller players,” Utah coach Ray Giacoletti said. “They have an easier time getting around.”

The Mountaineers took the court with a starting lineup built on speed.

With two starters who were shorter than 6 feet and center Matt Klieforth having tipped the scales at just more than 200 pounds, Western gave up several inches to Utah’s high-altitude front line.

After a tough opening stretch, Utah used a 10-0 run midway through the first half to put some distance between them and the pesky Mountaineers.

The halftime score stood at 41-26, and Utah shot an impressive 59.3 percent from the floor.

The second half would not start as well as the first did for Western State. The Utes used their size inside to jump out on a 20-5 run, cruising to the 39-point victory.

Even with the large margin of victory, Giacoletti saw some areas for improvement. “I’m concerned about turning it over 20 times,” Giacoletti said. “We can’t do that against (the next two opponents) Stony Brook or Washington.”

The Utes continued to shoot well, having finished with a 60.7 shooting percentage. The U shot worse from the line, with only 57.1 percent.

It was another big night for sophomore center Andrew Bogut. The Aussie finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, having his way with the undersized Mountaineer squad.

“It helps to play games like this early in the season,” Bogut said. “It’s good to play another team in an environment with fans watching.”

Junior Richard Cheney followed up a 16-point performance in the first exhibition with 18 points and nine rebounds. Having already pledged to step up as a leader prior to the season, Cheney is pleased at where he is individually after his second game.

“I’m more aggressive this year,” Cheney said. “I’m one of the leaders of the team and I have to step it up.”

The U dominated in all the facets one would expect from a team with such a size advantage.

The Utes outscored the Mountaineers in the paint 58-10, often throwing it inside to Bogut, or junior Chris Jackson (12 points).

The Utes also had a big advantage in getting to the line, taking 28 foul shots opposed to Western State’s two attempts.

The Utes will open up their regular-season schedule on Friday when they host Stony Brook. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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