Runnin’ Utes drop opener

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Coming into his season-opening home game against Southern Utah, U men’s basketball coach Ray Giacoletti knew what his team had to do: Stop Thunderbird shooting guard Steve Barnes.

“Barnes was amazing for them,” Giacoletti said. “We knew coming in that he was their go-to guy. Not only did he run the show for 36 minutes, but he knocked down key shot after key shot for them.”

The Utes were unable to stop the 5-foot-10 Barnes, especially down the stretch. The senior drained a long jump shot over the Utes’ Daniel Deane with 36.8 seconds left to give the T-Birds a one-point lead. Utah wasn’t able to overcome that deficit for the rest of the contest, and the Thunderbirds were able to sneak away from the Huntsman Center with a 76-73 victory.

“We talked about the play in the timeout, that if they were going to put a big guy on me, just give me the ball and let me create and see what I can do,” Barnes said. “Luckily, I got a shot out of it.”

Barnes led the Thunderbirds with 17 points and five assists, while teammate Nurudeen Adepoju scored 16 for the visiting team.

On the other side of the court, Utah big man Luke Nevill blew up early, scoring 11 points in the first six minutes of the game to lead the Utes to a 20-9 start. The 7-foot-1 sophomore cooled down after that, though, scoring eight points the rest of the game to finish with a team-high 19 points.

“We kind of went away from establishing (Nevill) and getting him touches there,” Giacoletti said. “They also did some different things. They started to front Luke and brought in a 7-foot guy of their own, and that made a difference.”

Southern Utah was also able to keep Nevill off the boards in the game, holding the Aussie to only three rebounds.

“They out-rebounded us as a team, and that’s terrible–especially with our guys,” Nevill said. “We have a lot of athletic guys going to the basket, and we should be getting more. It was a bad effort on my part. I should be getting a lot more than three rebounds.”

Nevill’s fellow Australian Stephen Weigh came off the bench with a solid performance for the Utes, picking up 13 points on 5-6 shooting in his first collegiate game.

“Steve shot the ball really well tonight,” Nevill said. “He’s got a quick shot, and he’ll be a player for us this year.”

Despite all of the offensive help from “down under,” the Utes were not able to overcome their instate rivals as the T-Birds shot an impressive 65.2 percent from the field.

“Southern Utah shot the ball extremely well,” Giacoletti said. “We just couldn’t get stops and weren’t disciplined when we needed to be. But this is not going to kill us. This is not going to stop us where this team needs to get.”

Tyler Cobb

Luke Nevill throws up a hook shot over Brad Kanis to score two of his 19 points Friday in the Runnin’ Utes’ loss to SUU at the Huntsman Center.