Utes Move to 2-0 After Win Over Idaho State

University+of+Utah+Men%27s+Basketball+player%2C+Pelle+Larsson+%28%233%29%2C+brings+the+ball+down+the+court+in+the+season-opening+game+against+the+University+of+Washington+in+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+on+Dec.+3%2C+2020.+%28Photo+by+Jack+Gambassi+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29

University of Utah Men’s Basketball player, Pelle Larsson (#3), brings the ball down the court in the season-opening game against the University of Washington in the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Dec. 3, 2020. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The University of Utah men’s basketball team moved to 2-0 after a win over the Idaho State Bengals, 75-59. They are 1-0 in conference play after beating the Washington Huskies in the season opener last week.

First Half

The Utes again started slow. Jumpers were not falling and the offense looked sluggish. Freshman guard Pelle Larsson got things going with a dunk midway through the first half, and from there the offense started to roll. The defense started to pick up the Bengals full-court, and the jolt gave Utah a cushion over the next few minutes. Despite a few defensive mistakes, the Utes remained in control through the first half and led at the break, 41-20.

Larsson showed some flashes of greatness in the first half with the breakaway dunk, a few nice assists, and a block into a transition layup. The Utes relied on his spark to put some points up when the offense was struggling. Only a freshman, he will be a key piece for Utah moving forward. Don’t be surprised if he plays his way into the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

Second Half

Utah continued to hold their lead into the second half, even if it wasn’t as easy as they expected. Idaho State came to play and competed well despite being overmatched.

Utah kept their foot on the gas, keeping the starters in the game late as the lead hovered around 15 for most of the night. Utah has some defensive and rebounding questions to answer as they were heavily out-rebounded 41-24. While The Utes played well enough to win, they will need to be more consistent moving forward to hang with tougher opposition.

“In a basketball setting, you’ve gotta be far better,” said head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “We just didn’t have the discipline to outlast them… It was a heck of an eye-opener for us.”

Postgame Notes

Every time the game got hard, Larsson was right there with the big play. The box score looks good, but it doesn’t even tell the full story. Time and time again, he made the right reads and looked comfortable in the offense. He was sturdy on defense the whole night, and Krystkowiak rewarded him with more minutes and chances to handle the ball. He finished with 14 points on 5-6 shooting, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal in 24 minutes.

“It’s an indication he’s ready to play,” said Krystowiak. “He’s certainly ahead of the curve right now, and playing some good basketball.”

Other bright spots for Utah included sophomore center Branden Carlson, who finished with 13 points on 6-11 shooting, with 2 rebounds and 2 assists.

Sophomore forward, Mikael Jantunen had 10 points and 4 rebounds on 5-7 shooting.

Senior guard Alfonso Plummer scored 13 to go with 5 rebounds, and junior forward Timmy Allen had 11 points to go with 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

“I think we’re still finding an identity and finding some comfort in it… We’ve got a long way to go, finding an identity offensively and defensively.”

Utah’s next game is at rival BYU on Saturday. They will have to clean up a lot of issues from today if they want to put themselves in a better position to win. The Cougars have played six games and are 5-1. The game is at the Marriott Center in Provo at 4:00 p.m. MST. 

“A lot of basketball games come down to whoever plays harder and tougher,” said sophomore guard Rylan Jones. “It’s still Utah-BYU… it’s still that rivalry… the intensity of that game is different.”

 

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