Utah plays small, gets win

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS8212;The Runnin’ Utes system is designed around big man Luke Nevill, but the Utes discovered they could be successful with a smaller line-up on the floor in their 61-58 quarterfinal win over TCU.

The Utes were forced to find unconventional ways to win after foul trouble kept Nevill and Kim Tillie on the bench most of the first half.

“When Luke struggles a little bit, is in a foul trouble, these guys have stepped up,” said head coach Jim Boylen. “It was a total team effort. It was (Tyler) Kepkay in the first half, Shaun (Green) in the second and Lawrence (Bohra) with the big play.”

Nevill played fewer minutes against TCU than he has all season, after being limited to three minutes in the first half due to two early fouls. Nevill’s usual replacement, Tillie, was on the bench beside him with three fouls of his own, leaving Utah with no legitimate big man.

With Nevill out of the lineup, the Utes went with an untraditionally small lineup that featured Shaun Green as the team’s tallest player on the court.

“We’ve talked about him playing with fouls and he’s asked me if he could play with fouls, I didn’t feel that tonight was the night to have him do that,” Boylen said. “Sometimes I put him in with two fouls, I didn’t feel tonight with the way the game felt that we could do that and if we could have him for the second half we’d have a chance to win.”

The Utes didn’t look like themselves without Nevill on the court as they committed several turnovers and fell behind in the first half.

“It took us five to seven minutes to adjust,” Boylen said. “I thought we were in shock a little bit because he makes the game easy for everybody, but we snapped out of it.”

Utah’s recovery was sparked by Tyler Kepkay, who went on a seven point scoring run late in the first half to get Utah back in the game and give them the lead going into halftime.

Despite Nevill being fresh and ready to go with three fouls to give in the second half, a tough double team kept the Mountain West Conference’s player of the year from getting much done in the paint.

For the first time all-season, the Utes were outscored in the paint. The Utes only scored 14 points from the block compared to TCU’s 20, as only two of Nevill’s 10 points came from the field.

The rest of the team stepped up to fill the scoring-void left by Nevill as Green finished with 14, Borha had 10 and Drca had nine.

“When Luke gets in foul trouble, we all feel like we have to step up our game because when he’s in there it makes everybody else’s game much easier,” Green, who led the Utes with 14 points said, “But we are a very confident team. We feel like we are a complete team. It’s not like Luke Nevill and the rest of us. We are a complete team and we made plays.”

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