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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Utah ends 3-year drought against BYU

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

The 247th meeting between the Utes and Cougars could go down as one of the greatest in the history of the storied rivalry.

Thanks to impassioned performances by Luke Nevill, Luka Drca and the rest of the Runnin’ Utes, the four-game losing streak to their rivals is dead and buried.

Utah was forced to keep clawing its way back into the game, which resulted in trading baskets and ultimately sending the game into overtime, where it dominated and won 94-88.

“Now I don’t have to answer “When are you going to beat BYU?’ which I’ve done for 16-18 months,” said head coach Jim Boylen. “But it’s a home win, which is very important against a quality team.”

Nevill set a new career high with 32 points scored on 10-of-12 shooting to go alongside 10 rebounds. Drca, Utah’s starting point guard, set a career high in points with 18, alongside nine assists and seven rebounds.

The Utes are back on top of the Mountain West Conference, and Boylen proved that Utah is where he belongs with the team’s first win against BYU since 2006.

“We are thankful for the win,” Boylen said. “It is a big win versus our rival and it is a big win in the league too.”

As the Utes and Cougars traded baskets all night, once the game went into overtime, Utah’s perseverance and demeanor kicked into high gear. The Utes scored 23 points in the extra period, which included clutch shots from Nevill, Tyler Kepkay and hitting timely free throws.

The Utes gave all the credit for its win to the five-minute drill they run every practice.

“When we got into the huddle (in overtime), my guys were yelling “just like practice, just like practice,'” Boylen said.

As Nevill out-jumped Cougars center Chris Miles for the overtime tip, Ute guard Lawrence Borha calmly knocked down a 3-pointer, setting the tone for Utah in OT.

Utah went on a tear in extra time offensively and got the job done defensively as well. The Utes held BYU’s leading scorer, Lee Cummard, to three points in overtime after he seemed unstoppable, hitting 20 in regulation.

Shaun Green gave Utah a chance to burn some time in the final minute of overtime by pulling down three key offensive rebounds. The Utes scored five points off offensive boards by Green, making the game out of reach for the Cougars.

“I think our conditioning took over,” Green said. “Our coaches told us to go to the glass constantly and I kept trying the whole game. I finally got my hand on a few that I could tip out to the guys.”

The Utes found themselves down 68-63 with four minutes left in the game. The momentum looked to be on BYU’s side, but a Cougar turnover and clutch shots down the stretch by Utah resulted in a 71-71 tie with 29 seconds on the game clock. Drca held the ball as the clock ran down but took the shot earlier than expected, allowing the Cougars to push the ball up the floor. Forward Jonathan Tavernari was able to get off a desperation 3 that clanked off the backboard.

“I thought Drca took the shot a little early,” Boylen said. “I told him to drive it a six (seconds) and take it at two, but he drove it at nine and took it at six. That happens and we got a break there.”

Boylen told his team before the game how much it meant to the school. The whole team responded, but Nevill and Drca most of all.

“They played me one-on-one the whole time and that gave me the opportunity to go to work,” Nevill said.

Go to work he did, and the Utes now have momentum to build on8212;but not without forgetting the impressive win over their bitter rivals.

“To me tonight was what this game should be,” Boylen said. “I thought it was a great game. I was going with my seniors down the stretch. I wasn’t going to sub my four seniors and I thought they delivered and I am happy for them.”

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