Runnin’ Utes Defeat Westminster in Exhibition Game


Jack Gambassi

U of U junior forward, Riley Battin (#21), during the game vs. the USC Trojans on Feb. 27th, 2021 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on campus. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The University of Utah men’s basketball team won their exhibition game against Westminster on Thursday evening, 87-51. It was a debut performance for many of the players and coaches, as there was heavy roster turnover that took place over the offseason. 

“It was great to be out there, great to play in front of fans,” said head coach Craig Smith.

Utah easily handled the overmatched Griffins and completed the final step before they officially tip off the season next Tuesday.

Utah started off the game a little slow. The Utes, understandably, looked and felt like a brand new roster, one which has hardly played together. 

Smith went to his bench early and often, making several substitutions within the first few minutes of the game. Nine Utes touched the floor within the first seven minutes, with a tenth entering with ten minutes remaining in the first half. Eli Ballstaedt became the 11th Ute to get some action, and he provided a spark by hitting a three and then turning an offensive rebound into a putback.

Smith had clearly made the decision to use multiple different lineups, and he’s committed to giving everyone a chance to play in order to see what sticks. 

Branden Carlson had a stellar first half, hitting a three and throwing down a couple of dunks to go along with protecting the paint on defense. 

The Utes really started to pile it on as the first half wound to a close, hitting their groove on both sides of the ball and taking a 39-20 lead into the locker room.

David Jenkins Jr. caught fire in the second half, hitting a few jumpers in a row and getting excited about it. His celebration resulted in a technical foul.

Postgame, Jenkins Jr. took the blame for the T, but still mentioned that the coaching staff likes it when they’re passionate.

“My juices were going — I hit a shot … I’m a veteran guard. I’ve gotta be better than that,” Jenkins Jr. said. “Coach Smith is a passionate guy as well … Ultimately our coaches like the passion that we show.”

“David can make a lot of types of shots. He’s trying to settle into the way we play,” Smith said. “I thought he took great shots. He missed some clean, wide open ones too, but you saw a glimpse of what he can do.”

Dusan Mahorcic also had a nice second half, with a couple of buckets and a really nice pass inside to Rollie Worster for a layup. 

“He’s got a really good feel for the game,” Smith said.

Lahat Thioune played well in his minutes, grabbing eight rebounds and six points in under 11 minutes of play.

“He has improved his game,” Smith said. “He’s put in a lot of work.”

Bostyn Holt and Harrison Creer checked into the game in the second half, completing Utah’s plan to get everyone into the game. Jack Jamele and Both Gach did not play. The two were inactive, Jamele due to a non-COVID illness; Gach has not yet been cleared by the NCAA.

Gabe Madsen hit a few threes late in the game to save what would have otherwise been a poor shooting night for him. The final one was a four-point play for Madsen, bringing him to 16 points on the evening.

“It was obviously nice to see the ball go in,” Madsen said.

Utah plays Abilene Christian at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. MST. 

“Bunch of anticipation. We’ve been ready,” Jenkins Jr. said. “We’re gonna be ready for this first game on Tuesday.”


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