Utes win, maintain first place in conference

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

It was another close game for the Runnin’ Utes, and for the third game in a row, they found a way to win.

Carlon Brown put on a show for the Horned Frog crowd with a facial-of-the-year dunk over 6-foot-8-inch forward Kevin Langford in Utah’s 62-54 win. Brown finished the game with a team-high 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

“I struggled the last three games,” Brown said. “Tonight I wanted to come out more aggressive, get to the rack, hopefully get to the line. I couldn’t make my free throws, but I got a lot of rebounds and I tried to elevate the team’s performance.”

Although the Utes went on a 22-to-9 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half, TCU kept things close. With just over two minutes left in regulation, the Utes held a three-point lead 57-54 after two made free throws by Frogs forward Zvonko Buijan. Utah called a time-out, and out of that the Horned Frogs fouled Luke Nevill, who made both free throws to make it a two-possession game.

From there, TCU was given opportunities to get back in the game, with Utah making 3-of-6 shots from the charity stripe. A couple of missed 3s and a turnover later, the Utes walked away with the win and maintained their share of first place in the Mountain West Conference at 6-2.

Utah allowed TCU to shoot 52 percent from the field at halftime before turning on the defensive clamps in the second half.

“I had a nice heartfelt talk with my team at halftime and I thought they responded,” said head coach Jim Boylen. “I’m really proud of my guys. The first half we just weren’t sharp and we fought back.”

The Horned Frogs were 9-2 on their home floor coming into the game but couldn’t buy a shot, going 3-for-13 to start the second. The Utes took advantage, taking their first lead of the game with 13 minutes left in the game.

“They were moving like five times faster than we were in the first half,” Boylen said. “That’s a hard team to guard, with there speed and quickness and they go small. I thought we shared the ball in the second half.”

Utah held the Horned Frogs to 7-of-26 shooting in the second half while making 13-of-18 themselves, including a 4-of-7 effort from beyond the arc.

What was uncanny for the Utes in this game was their free-throw shooting. Coming in, they led the conference in free throw percentage, but went just 11-for-17 from the line and missed several 1-and-1 situations late.

Nevill had another night during which he couldn’t get anything going due to double- and-triple teaming by TCU. The Frogs held Nevill to 0-for-1 shooting from the field in the first half and 3-for-4 for the game. Nevill picked up half of his 12 points from the line, shooting six and making them all.

The man that matched up with Nevill for the night was Langford, who put up a game high 22 points. He matched his 3-point season total against the Utes, making three shots from downtown on the night. TCU guard Ronnie Moss was the only other player to score in double figures for the Frogs, scoring 14 points.

Utah will next travel to Wyoming to take on the Cowboys, who are 10-0 at home.

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