Runnin’ Utes Finish Off Regular Season, Honor Two Seniors


Jack Gambassi

Utah basketball’s David Jenkins Jr. (#1) in the matchup against the UCLA Bruins at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The University of Utah men’s basketball team dropped their final game of the regular season against the Colorado Buffaloes. The 84-71 loss confirms Utah as the 11th seed for the Pac-12 tournament next week.

Utah fell behind early in the game and they were never able to recover. The Utes started all four of their seniors on Senior Day, moving Riley Battin, Both Gach and David Jenkins Jr. to the starting lineup to join Marco Anthony. Jenkins Jr. had it going early, scoring 14 points in the first half to lead the Utes. Still, his scoring punch wasn’t enough and Utah went to the halftime break down over 20 points, 50-29. The defense allowing 50 points in a half is not a recipe to win basketball games, and the offense didn’t do enough to keep up.

The second half continued the blowout. Utah wasn’t able to get anything going and they absolutely could not stop the Buffaloes. The lead for Colorado stayed at about 20 for most of the night. Utah attempted a late comeback and cut the lead to as little as 13, but there wasn’t enough time left and the Buffaloes came away with the victory.

Battin and Jenkins Jr. were honored before the game as part of the Senior Day festivities. That alone doesn’t necessarily mean they will leave after this season, but it’s a good indication of where they’re leaning. Due to the NCAA freezing the eligibility clock for winter athletes during last season, there are no players on Utah’s roster without eligibility left. Jenkins Jr. and Battin could take their final year next season, or move on following the Pac-12 Tournament next week. Notably, Gach and Anthony, Utah’s two other seniors, opted not to be honored tonight, leaving the possibility open that they will choose to return for a final season next year.

“Obviously we have four seniors [and] all of them have a year of eligibility left,” said head coach Craig Smith. “It [being honored] was open to all of them, and the two guys that didn’t, told us that they didn’t want to do that.”

It was a long season for Utah for many different reasons, but the feeling around the team is that they’re ready to turn the page to next year. They’ll be active on the recruiting trails and the transfer portal, and look to tweak the roster and hopefully come back better in the fall. There’s still an opportunity to extend their season with a run in the Pac-12 Tournament, but they will have their hands full in this ultra-competitive conference.

“You just gotta hit reset,” Smith said. “The only way you can win in the postseason: everybody’s gotta be all in, and you’ve gotta believe it.”

Everyone’s record is 0-0 heading into the tournament. Utah thinks they can make some magic happen. They’ll open against the Washington Huskies on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, tipoff scheduled for 9:30 p.m. MST.

“We’re just going to focus on the tournament now,” said Branden Carlson. “Anything is possible.”


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