Back from Alaska

Even with some sloppy play, the Utes enjoyed the Huntsman Center Tuesday night, and cruised to a 65-45 win over Southern Utah.

Junior Richard Chaney led the Utes with 19 points and Sophomore Andrew Bogut chipped in 15 points and 14 rebounds for his 18th career double-double.

Returning after three games in Alaska, the U battled weariness and the tough Thunderbird zone, committing 20 turnovers in the win.

“We’ve got to take care of the basketball better. Bottom line,” Ute coach Ray Giacoletti said. “Nothing else needs to be talked about other than we can’t turn the ball over 20 times.”

The Utes jumped out to a 7-0 lead at the outset, holding Southern Utah scoreless for the first three minutes.

The T-Birds couldn’t stop Bogut in the middle early on, as the Utes jumped out to a 20-8 lead halfway through the first period.

“He has the opportunity for good things to happen every time he touches the ball,” Giacoletti said.

With a 12-point deficit, Southern Utah started to gamble with their 1-1-3 zone. It paid off, as the T-Birds capitalized on some sloppy Ute turnovers, going on a 10-2 run.

With the lead whittled down to five, the Utes relied on their inside strength to get the margin back in their favor. Chaney drew two tough fouls in the paint, connecting on all four free shots to get the U in the locker room with a 28-19 halftime lead.

A lay-up by sophomore Justin Hawkins started the scoring in the second half. Then it was the Richard Chaney show.

Chaney scored the next seven points for the U, helping the Utes to a 10-0 run and their biggest lead of the night at 47-25.

“[Chaney] was aggressive at both ends of the floor,” Giacoletti said, lauding his guard’s breakout night.

Chaney downplayed his big night, shifting the focus to the team.

“I don’t really care about points,” Chaney said. “I just care about the win.”

The T-Birds couldn’t rally, as the Utes played the whole bench on the way to their fourth win of the season.

It was Utah’s 26th consecutive non-conference home win, and the fourth in a row over Southern Utah.

Bogut thought the game meant more for the Thunderbirds, but underscored the importance of being ready for intra-state games.

“We’re probably the best team in Utah,” Bogut said. “Everyone we play is going to try to knock us off our high horse.”

Against a team that started a 6-foot-5-inch center, the U dominated down low. The Utes enjoyed a 38-22 advantage in points in the paint, and a 17-5 edge in second chance points.

Forward Tim Gainey led the Thunderbirds with eight points, as Southern Utah could not get one player in a constant rhythm.

As a team, the T-Birds shot a meager 36 percent from the field.

The victory did not come without its cost. Junior Bryant Markson hyper-extended his knee early in the second half, and is listed as questionable for Saturday’s game at Utah State.

Tip-off in Logan is set for 4 p.m. The Utes haven’t won at the Smith Spectrum in their last four trips to Cache Valley.

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