Runnin’ Utes Season Ends in First Round of Pac-12 Tournament


Xiangyao Tang

The University of Utah men’s basketball team plays against the Colorado Buffaloes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday March 5, 2022. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The University of Utah men’s basketball team’s season is over. Their loss to Washington in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament finishes off the first season of a new era, sending the program into year two of a full-fledged rebuild. 

Utah and Washington went back and forth in the first half, leading to just a three-point difference between the two teams at halftime. Marco Anthony did an amazing job defensively on a variety of players, including limiting Huskies’ star Terrell Brown Jr. to an inefficient 4-11 shooting performance in the first half. Branden Carlson had a few buckets inside and Gabe Madsen hit a few threes, but Utah found themselves with a small deficit at half, 40-37. 

Washington began to pull away in the middle of the second half, using a 12-0 run to take a commanding double-digit lead. Turnovers and sloppy offense were the reason, as the Utes couldn’t stop the bleeding over a four-minute stretch with no points. Utah fought back thanks to Anthony keeping them in the game, and gave themselves a chance to pull off an upset through sheer determination.

Utah leaned heavily on their starters, with only two players being in double digits minutes-wise off the bench: Jaxon Brenchley and David Jenkins Jr. As a starter, Anthony played 37 of 40 minutes. The rotation never really found a consistent pattern this season.

Turnovers were the story of the second half for the Utes, where they finished with 10 in the frame to give them 16 on the night. Washington had only five.

The Utes did tonight what they’ve done many times this season: play well enough to compete, but not enough to win. 

Ultimately, the Utes ran out of time and out of gas, losing 82-70. The loss ends Utah’s season, the first under Craig Smith. Anthony finished with 18 points, Carlson 14 and Madsen 12.

Despite the tough year, Smith was positive on what he saw from the team this season.

“I’m really proud of … our whole team,” Smith said. “When your wins and losses aren’t where you want them to be, and the drought that we went through, specifically in January. When you do this for 26 years, you’re on a lot of different kinds of teams, and as an assistant, I’ve been on some of these teams, and I’ve seen what can happen in terms of chemistry, finger-pointing, and our guys didn’t do that. It was very rare for us to have a poor practice. Very rare. It was very rare for us not to come out and compete and work as hard as we can.”

Utah will now look towards the future with the program in a state of transition. The roster has holes that need to be filled, and the transfer portal and recruiting trails are now fully open. There were four seniors on this year’s team. All of them could come back, all could leave, but regardless there will likely be many new Utes by the next time they take the court.

“I am proud of our guys. It was a great group to be around, they brought energy on a daily basis,” Smith said. “One that I’m very proud of in terms of how they handled things and the way that they approached things, and that was as a pro.”


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