Runnin’ Utes string together big wins over break

While the rest of the university was off caroling and drinking egg-nog, the Runnin’ Utes didn’t relax at all over the Winter Break. The Utes went 7-1 over the vacation, and after dropping a close contest to Arizona to begin the string, now are riding a seven-game win streak. The U’s record now stands at 12-3, as the Utes enter conference play Monday night.

Here is a recap of all the games you may have missed:

Dec. 11

Arizona 67 Utah 62

While it was nice to stay close in a tough road game a week after getting routed at USU, this is a bout the Utes should have won. The U was leading late, until some key miscues gave the game to the Cats. Ute center Andrew Bogut led the U with 20 points and 10 rebounds, as Arizona coach Lute Olson registered his 1,000th career coaching victory.

Dec. 17

Utah 81 N. Colorado 66

Bogut continued his torrid play, as he burned the Bears for 24 points and 11 rebounds. Ute guard Marc Jackson pitched in 18 points, including four three-pointers as the U shot 56 percent from the field.

Dec. 20

Utah 66 Coppin State 37

After a close first half, the Utes used a big run early in the second period to pull away from the smaller Eagles. Sticking with tradition, Bogut led all players with 28 points and 14 rebounds. The Ute defense smothered the Eagles to the tune of a 29.4 shooting percentage.

Dec. 22

Utah 92 Cal Poly 76

Playing on the road in a small, hostile gym proved rough for a half, but the Utes pulled away in the second to put away the Mustangs. All the Ute starters got in on the scoring action, including Justin Hawkins with 19, Richard Chaney with 21 and Bogut with 23. Mustang freshman Dawin Whiten notched career highs with six three-pointers and 29 points.

Dec. 28

Utah 51 Weber State 40

The lackluster Ute effort was made worse by the news that Chaney would be out four to six weeks after breaking his hand during practice. Neither team could get anything going offensively, as the U led 19-15 at halftime. In a duel of top centers, Bogut outscored former Ute Lance Allred 22-20, pulling down 17 rebounds in the process.

Dec. 30

Utah 80 Colorado 48

“This was the best 40 minutes we have played all season,” Ute coach Ray Giacoletti said, beaming at his team’s effort. The Utes never let the Big-12’s Buffaloes in the game, getting their lead up to as many as 36. The Huntsman Center crowd finally showed a pulse, and it showed in the team’s play. Bogut went off for 25 points and 15 rebounds, and point guard Tim Drisdom finally got into a scoring groove, utting in 16 points, including four three-pointers.

Jan. 3

Utah 69 LSU 55

In front of 22 NBA scouts, Bogut got the better of fellow sophomore phenom Brandon Bass, exploding for 24 points and 17 rebounds. The Aussie was out-rebounding the Tigers by himself for most of the game, as the Utes held a 39-21 advantage in boards. Bass finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, but LSU couldn’t recover from a cold spell in the second half after the Utes forced the Tigers to the perimeter.

Jan. 5

Utah 81 Whitworth 60

After two games against big-name opponents, the Utes tuned up for the conference slate with an easy contest versus the Division III Pirates. In only 18 minutes, Bogut put up 23 points and eight rebounds. Marc Jackson had another big night from beyond the arc, connecting for five three-pointers and 18 points total.

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