Runnin’ Utes Have Winning Weekend at Home

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University of Utah freshman guard Rylan Jones (15) dribbles past Washington State players in an NCAA Men's Basketball game vs. Washington State at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.(Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Mallory Arnold, Sports Writer

 

The University of Utah Runnin’ Utes (12-7, 3-4 Pac-12) took on the Washington Huskies (12-9, 2-6 Pac-12) and Washington State Cougars (12-9, 3-5 Pac-12) at home and came out victorious in both games. 

 

Utah vs. Washington 

This game was a nail-biter up until the last second. With five minutes left in the second half, the Utes came back from behind to take the win. The team was down 45-56 with six minutes left in the second half, but Utah got on a roll to pull out the win. 

With two minutes left, Timmy Allen and Rylan Jones were put to the test on the free throw line. All six shots were made to give the final result of 67-66. 

Freshman Jones told the Pac-12 Networks “We missed a lot of shots in the first half and had a couple turnovers. But we kept fighting, we just fed off the crowd and got the win.” 

Utah had eight turnovers in the first half, but really picked up their defense and ended the game with 10 turnovers total. The Utes ended the game with a .339 field goal percentage, .125 3-point field goal percentage and .750 free throw percentage. 

“I try to play harder, be tougher, and play with a big heart.” Jones said “I have fun and it’s worked out for me so far.”

Riley Battin came out on top for the Utes with 17 points, including two 3-pointers. Allen and Jones both followed with 13 points. Jones was 9 for 10 on the free throw line. 

 

Utah vs. Washington State 

9,807 fans came out for the Saturday night game against the Cougars, who earlier this week lost to the Colorado Buffs 56-78. It was an offensive night overall for the Utes, as they stayed in control early and kept the pace to win 76-64. 

Jones had another strong game with 24 points, 18 of which came in the second half, and was 6 for 6 on the free throw line. Mikael Jantunen tabbed 16 points and Branden Carlson hit 12 points. 

“You know at the end of the day, that might be the most enjoyable part of the game when you see shots go in. I think it energizes you and I give our guys a lot of credit from the other night when we were shooting as miserably as we did and we managed to defend and get enough stops” said Coach Larry Krystkowiak. 

The Runnin’ Utes were hitting on all cylinders and overall played a better game than the Cougars. The team hit a whopping .630 field goal percentage and .400 3-point field goal percentage. They went 8-9 on free throws in the first half, and overall hit 73.7% on free throws. 

All of the energy in the Jon M. Huntsman center helped propel the Utes to put them on a win streak. Speaking of win streaks, Utah is undefeated at home against the Cougars since joining the Pac-12 in 2011-12. That’s 12 straight and 8-0 at home versus Washington State. 

“We just have to start from the defensive end and get our stuff together. When we play good defense it relates to offense, and I feel like that was the focus point this week — just get back on track,” Jantunen said about coming back from the losing streak. 

 

What’s Next?

Utah will head to sunny Los Angeles to face USC on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and then UCLA on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be broadcasted on FS1 as well as ESPN 700.

 

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@mallory_kae