Runnin? Utes have longest win streak in four years

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

Jim Boylen wanted to make this season’s home schedule one to remember with the Fab Four, and so far the Utes are 1-0.

Tyler Kepkay and Shaun Green combined for 44 points off the bench and the Runnin’ Utes took a 12-point lead into the second half and beat the Oregon Ducks 95-81 for their fifth straight win8212;their longest winning streak in four years.

“We are thankful for the win,” said head coach Jim Boylen. “I am very proud of my team. I’ve asked them to defend, rebound and run and I think we rebounded very well. We had good depth and balance. Kepkay was teriffic, he made big shots.”

Utah, which is also playing host to national powerhouses such as Cal, Gonzaga and LSU as part of its Fab Four advertisement, got a career-high 23 points out of Kepkay.

Every time the Ducks closed the game to within 12 points, Kepkay responded.

Green scored 14 points in the first half and finished with 22. He went 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, which was almost half of the team’s total 3-pointers.

Last season Oregon beat the Utes in Eugene, which Boylen admitted was on his mind leading up to this game.

“No disrespect to them, but I’ve been waiting for this game for a year,” Boylen said.

The Utes controlled the tempo throughout the contest and adjusted to Oregon’s fast-paced offense.

“I feel like we can adapt to play any way,” Green said. “We played at Missouri State where it was a low-scoring game and (to) turn around and played Oregon who loves to put the pressure on the defense, we adapted to that and ran it right back at them.”

It was a good game for the six players who received more than 20 minutes of playing time against the Ducks. Besides Kepkay and Green, two other players scored in double figures.

Luke Nevill had a big game against the undersized Ducks. He finished with his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in the win.

Lawrence Bohra scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, most of which came in the first half. Luka Drca had a solid game with eight points, six rebounds and a game-high nine assists.

Oregon had one standout player in Garret Sim. Sim, who was forced to carry the load without one of the Ducks’ best players, Michael Dunigan, tried to get the Ducks back in the game by putting up a 28-point effort on 10-of-14 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from beyond the arc.

Tajuan Porter finished the game with 14 points, but the Utes outrebounded the Ducks 41-23 to hand Oregon its third straight loss.

Utah didn’t have the defensive game that Boylen had in mind, allowing the Ducks to shoot 48 percent from the field. The Utes countered by shooting a blistering 58 percent from the field, including a 52 percent effort on 3-pointers.

“I’m not happy with our defensive field goal percentage, but I think you have to give (Oregon) credit for that,” Boylen said.

It was the first half that sealed it for the Utes, although early in the first half the Utes and Ducks went back and forth on 3-point possessions.

The Utes ultimately won that battle and made 8-of-13 3-point shots in the half. Utes forward Shaun Green knocked down half of those to go 4-of-6. Oregon, which has been known for its 3-point shooting early this season, was 4-11 from beyond the arc.

“I wouldn’t say that we had them in the beginning, but we started really well and that helped us progress,” Nevill said.

Utah’s defense forced the Ducks to turn over the ball eight times in the first half. The Utes scored seven points off of forced turnovers in the first half.

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Erik Daenitz

Luke Drca scored eight points and added six rebound and nine assists in Utahs 95-81 win over Oregon Wednesday night.