Upperclassmen help defeat USU

By By Joseph Simmons

By Joseph Simmons

The Utah veteran trio of Luka Drca, Kim Tillie and Carlon Brown showed up when it mattered, as Utah downed the Utah State Aggies on Wednesday night in a hard-fought 68-67 victory.

“This is a big win for our young team and for our program,” Boylen said. “I thought we fought back, and we played together.”

The trio combined for 41 of the Utes’ points and made several key plays down the stretch to give them the win.

The Utes were able to get things rolling on offense first behind guards Brown and Marshall Henderson, who combined for 16 of the Utes’ first 23 points.

However, as the half wore on, Utah lost its offensive rhythm, and the Aggies were able to chip away at the Utes’ lead. USU eventually went up 25-23 on a Jared Quayle 3-pointer with 3:15 left in the half. Quayle gave the defense trouble all night and led all scorers with 27 points.

“I’ve said it before: Quayle is one of the most underrated guys we’ll play all year,” Boylen said. “I’m not surprised at all by how he played tonight.”

A Matt Read 3-pointer with 1:12 remaining ended a seven-minute scoring drought for the Utes and pulled them within one at 26-27, but Quayle answered with a jumper that gave Utah State a 29-26 lead going into halftime. Although they started the game shooting well, the Utes were just 34.5 percent from the field for the half, compared to Utah State’s 42.3 percent.

The Aggies looked like they were primed to take control of the game in the second half, as they came out shooting 63.6 percent and jumped out to an early six-point lead at 37-31, again powered by Quayle’s sharpshooting.

The Aggies were up seven at 47-40 with 12:28 remaining when Drca hit a 3-pointer that sparked an 11-0 Ute run, changing the tone of the game.

“We got stops, and we shared the ball8212;that’s what good teams do,” Boylen said. “Drca was tough as nails, Brown came to life, and I thought our defense was really solid. That was a big run.”

The remainder of the half, both teams tried to pull away8212;with little success8212;but the Utes were able to build a small lead thanks to several shots by Brown and Tillie that put Utah up 60-54 with barely more than two minutes remaining.

The Aggies cut the lead to one with 28 seconds left with two free throws by Quayle, but after being intentionally fouled, Drca answered with two free throws to put the lead back at three. Tillie put the game out of reach 20 seconds later with another free throw. Quayle nailed a last-second 3, but it wasn’t enough.

“Last season I had a period of the year when I couldn’t make free throws,” Drca said. “I hope that’s over. You’ve got to make free throws to win close games.”

The Aggies fell to 1-1 with the loss, and the Utes improved to 1-1 on the season and will now prepare to face Southern University on Saturday.

For now, the Utes will take pride in the progress they made from their opening season loss and their victory over an in-state rival.

“I think we grew up a lot since last Friday,” Boylen said. “We’re a young team, but we’re growing, and we’re learning to trust each other. To me, that’s what basketball is all about.”

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Thien Sok

Junior guard Carlon Brown shot 50 percent from the 3-point line and scored 22 points for the Utes in a tight victory over Utah State on Wednesday night at the Huntsman Center.