Utes extend win streak in OT victory

By By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

By Marco Villano, Staff Writer

It was another close conference game and another big win for the Runnin’ Utes.

Luke Nevill scored eight of his 23 points in overtime and pulled down 14 boards to go along with his eye-popping seven blocks to help the U overcome another first-half deficit to hold on for a 89-79 victory.

“We spend so much time on end-of-game situations, under five minutes, under four, under three,” said head coach Jim Boylen. “When we got into overtime, it felt kind of like the BYU game; there was just a calm understanding of what we needed to do.”

Tyler Kepkay scored a career-high 27 points, with every point coming after halftime to lead the Utes to their seventh straight win. It was also their third straight victory at home, keeping them at first place in the Mountain West Conference at 10-2.

“I’m very proud of my team,” Boylen said. “I don’t think they quite understand yet that we are on top of the Mountain West Conference and we are going to get everyone’s best shot. This team has never been in that situation before and we have to learn how to handle that.”

After falling behind early in the first half, Utah managed to take a 62-61 lead at the 6:38 mark in the second. Kepkay sparked the offense by scoring 23 of his 27 points in second half, ultimately sending the game into overtime, where he chipped in another four.

“I think Luke (Nevill) got going in the second half and that really got Kepkay going,” Boylen said. “When Luke plays well they have to concentrate on him and so Kepkay gets more open looks, and he knocked them down.”

Along with picking up another double-double, Nevill broke the Utes’ all-time season block record in the first half against CSU. The record, previously held by Andrew Bogut with 65 blocks, was broken by a huge block on Rams forward Andre McFarland. His most clutch, however, came at the end of regulation.

With 13 seconds left in the game, CSU guard Marcus Walker had the ball in his hands with the game tied 73-73. He was able to get into the paint but was immediately confronted by Nevill. Walker tried to shoot over him, but Nevill rejected the attempt for his sixth block of the game.

“He is a force in the middle,” Boylen said. “It kind of benefitted us that he had to sit in the first half because of the two fouls, because he was active and fresh at the end. He has been dominant in the paint all year and he has done a great job of protecting the basket.”

Walker led the Rams in scoring with 22 points, but the most impressive scorer for the Rams was Andy Ogide. Rarely do the Utes see a player with the capabilities to match up one-on-one with Nevill. The sophomore forward gained some and scored 15 points on the 7-foot-2-inch center.

Lawrence Borha and Carlon Brown were key role players against the Rams, scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively. Borha made a 3-pointer with 8:37 left to get the Utes within a point of CSU at 60-59. During the next possession Kepkay buried a 3 to take the lead.

Typically at the end of games Boylen sticks with guard Luka Drca and the four seniors. Drca fouled out, however, leaving Brown to fill the void. With just over a minute left Brown would make a dunk to put the Utes up by two, 73-71.

Coming off of arguably his best week in college basketball, Shaun Green struggled because of fouls. He had to check out of the first half after five minutes on the court. After that he couldn’t get anything going and finished with four points in 28 minutes.

The Utes turned it around after shooting 40 percent from the field in the first half. They shot 60 percent in the second half on 15-of-24 shooting and held the Rams to 48 percent in both halves.

The Utes were outrebounded in the first half 21 to 178212;nine of those offensive. The Utes dominated the glass in the second half. They pulled down 17 rebounds compared to the Rams’ 11. Overall they won the rebounding battle 40 to 35.

[email protected]

Greg Harlow

Tyler Kepkay scored a career-high 27 points in the Utes? win over Colorado State Wednesday. The overtime win keeps the Utes at the top of the Mountain West Conference.