Rout to recovery

What a difference a couple of classifications make.

The Utes, coming off an embarrassing 26-point rout at Utah State, were revived in a hurry, rolling to a 98-63 blowout of NAIA Montana-Western Wednesday night.

Richard Chaney led the U with 20 points, as the Utes committed a season low eight turnovers.

“The first couple of games, we didn’t quite know what was going on. We had to get used to each other and the new offense,” Ute guard Marc Jackson said. “We are getting better in that aspect. The turnovers should keep going down.”

The Utes spread the ball around to everyone, as seven players scored eight or more points. Bryant Markson and Jonas Langvad each rang up career highs, with 15 and nine points respectively.

“Our starters can’t play 40 minutes,” Ute coach Ray Giacoletti said, pleased he could use so many players. “We’ve got to develop our bench. [The second string] played with a lot of poise.”

Coming off a dismal shooting performance against Utah State, the Utes had a hard time missing versus the Bulldogs. The U went on a run beginning at the end of the first half where they made 13 consecutive shots from the field. On the night, the Utes connected on 65-percent of their shots, including 66 points in the paint.

The game started out slowly for the U, as Montana-Western seemingly could not miss from three-point range. The Bulldogs managed to keep pace, drawing to striking distance at 36-30 with three minutes left in the first half. That’s where the upset bid would die. The Utes jumped on several Bulldog turnovers, scoring the final 12 points of the half. They would not let up in the second stanza, cruising to the easy victory.

Western star Matt Luedtke once again led the Dogs in scoring with 24 points. The senior went six for 16 from three-point range, going cold from beyond the arc in the second half after a feverish start.

While the 35-point win mends some egos, the cupcakes end in a hurry for the Utes. They head to Tucson, Ariz., Saturday for a showdown with No. 15 Arizona. Tip off is set for 11 a.m.

While most of the current players were barely in high school at the time, the game holds an interesting revenge factor for Arizona, dating back to the 1998 NCAA tournament.

It was perhaps the best-played game under Rick Majerus, in which the Utes completely shut down Mike Bibby and the defending national championship Wildcats. The 76-51 victory earned the Utes a trip to the Final Four, after which they would eventually finish the national runner up. The Utes and Cats have not met since.

The U holds an all-time series lead of 28-18, with UA winning three of the last four.

Arizona is led by Hall-of-Fame coach Lute Olson, now in his 22nd year at the helm. He has compiled a record of 524-159 while in Tucson, including a national title in 1997 and four Final Four appearances.

Ute center Andrew Bogut will finally have someone of his own caliber to line up against. Wildcat center Channing Frye is coming off one of his best games as a collegiate, pouring in 18 points and 16 rebounds in a win vs. Mississippi State. On the season Frye averages 11.6 points per game and 8.6 rebounds.

Senior All-America candidate Salim Stoudamire leads the Cats in scoring, averaging 16 points per game and shooting .479 from three point range.

The Utes know they are up against long odds, but are excited to prove they are better than they showed last Saturday in Logan.

“We get to play a big Pac-10 team with a big name,” Jackson said. “We have nothing to lose. We can either go in there and upset them, or we can have happen what happened to us at Utah State.”

The Utes return to the Huntsman Center Dec. 17 for a matchup with Northern Colorado. Game time is at 7 p.m.

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