Utah beats BYU and takes the rivalry win, 65-61

Well, there was definitely a rivalry feel in the Marriott Center when the No. 13 Runnin’ Utes visited BYU on Wednesday night.

The football teams may be taking a brief hiatus from the gridiron, but the basketball squads were going at it on the hardwood in Provo. Thanks to 16 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocks and steals from Delon Wright, Utah got by a resilient Cougar lineup and a roaring crowd to get to its seventh win of the season, 65-61.

“It was fantastic. It was a great feeling,” said head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “This rivalry means a lot to a lot of people … It’s a heck of a rivalry, and it’s fun to be a part of.”

After the tip, the Utes got off to the quick start. With a lead as big as 13 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Utah had complete control early on.

But later in the half, BYU head coach Dave Rose decided to switch his defense to 3-2 zone, with three defenders on the perimeter and two defenders down low. The change proved to be effective as the Utes began to look stagnant on offense.

With the Cougars playing good defense, their offense began to follow suit. With offensive numbers that rank tops in the nation, the Utes began to look flustered on defense as well.

“They’re a great offensive team,” Wright said. “We had to limit their points. We had runs, and they had runs.”

Thanks to the home crowd getting behind its defensive Cougars, BYU staged a comeback that saw it take the lead heading into halftime, 31-30.

The second half saw a lot of chippy, aggressive play from both sides as the teams were trading baskets to start off. Like the first, Utah got off to a quicker start than the Cougars, taking another double-digit lead in the second half.

But Rose would return to the funky zone, and BYU slowly crept back into the game. The Cougars even had their biggest lead of the game in the second half with four.

With the clock winding down, the game was going to end with whoever got the most possessions down the stretch. A problem that the Utes have seen in the past came back into play as the clock kept on running — free throws.

Krystkowiak mentioned earlier in the week how his team was working on free throw shooting to prepare for this game, but the Utes might need a little more practice. There were numerous times toward the end where Utah could have sealed the game, but kept BYU in it with its missed free throws.

In the end, Dallyn Bachynski and the rest of the Utes hit just enough free throws and played solid defense to hold on to get the win down south.

“That’s why we subbed him in,” Krystkowiak said. “Jakob [Poeltl] was struggling a bit from the line, and we were hoping we could get some stops … when he gets an opportunity to play, he’s laying it all on the line for his teammates.”

The Cougars were led by star guard Tyler Haws, who finished with 23 points and eight rebounds, and Kyle Collinsworth, who registered 17 points, 9 rebounds and five assists.

Utah will stay on the road when it next competes against Kansas on Saturday, adding to the Utes’ difficult non-conference stretch.

“This stretch was one of those that when we went into it, it looked a lot better on paper a few months ago than it does actually living in it,” Krystkowiak said.

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