Kepkay proves clutch in overtime win

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

This time, all things went right for Tyler Kepkay.

Although the term “clutch” wasn’t exactly a common word associated with Kepkay during his first year on the hill, Tuesday night’s impressive overtime performance against BYU has made the past evaporate from memory.

After remaining relatively quiet in regulation, the senior from Vancouver, British Columbia, erupted in overtime with 10 of his 19 points coming in the last five minutes8212;10 of the Utes’ 23 overtime points.

“He’s just tough,” said head coach Jim Boylen. “That’s the guy that we recruited and that’s the guy we thought he could be8212;(a) tough, driven, big-time play maker. As you know, he struggled last year with that and he made the plays today.”

During the first 40 minutes against the Cougars, Kepkay looked to be having just another game, earning nine points and four rebounds off the bench.

There was a switch, however, once the game, all knotted up at 71, hit overtime. Kepkay stepped up big time and proved to be clutch for the Utes as he drove in for two acrobatic layups and hit 6-of-7 foul shots.

“I had the plays there and I just made them tonight,” Kepkay said. “I really it’s just our conditioning. I think they got a little fatigued and I saw openings and I took them.”

After last year’s season, which saw him struggling to make big plays when the team needed them, Kepkay has stepped up his game for his final season as a Ute.

Kepkay is averaging 10 points and three rebounds a game and has 23 assists on the season.

Boylen credits the change to Kepkay’s attitude.

“He was selfish last year,” Boylen said. “He was worried about his stuff and he separated from his teammates. This year, he is one of the favorite guys on the team, he helps people, he embraces everybody, he is very calm in practice and at the end of games and it’s all because he’s made himself a part of the team.”

The unselfish attitude that Kepkay has adopted is key to his success and something that Boylen would like to see every player on the team embody.

“He’s more worried about winning than starting, more worried about winning than scoring,” Boylen said. “It’s a life lesson to me and it’s what this program is built on. If you give it back, give it up and take your ego out of it, it’s all going to come back to you.”

Although the coaching staff has noticed a change in Kepkay, for him this season isn’t about looking for redemption from last year8212;rather about playing the game and working hard with his teammates and pressing forward.

“I just had a good summer and came back, and you know, I’m just playing basketball,” Kepkay said.

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