Runnin’ Utes Go 2-0 to Open Non-Conference Play


Xiangyao Tang

University of Utah men’s basketball guard Gabe Madsen 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 picked up two wins this week to move them to 2-0 on the young season. Utah looked dominant over inferior opponents, and we’ve gotten a good look at their depth during the tail end of blowouts.

With wins over Long Island and Cal State Bakersfield, the Utes have showcased their ability to keep the ball moving and play tough defense. This is what you expect from Power Five teams opening the season against subpar non-conference opponents. They held both opponents under 50 points. 

A hot start against CSU Bakersfield put the Utes up 14-0, and they never looked back. The defense was tight in the first seven minutes of both halves, making life tough on a stagnant Bakersfield offense. 

Sharpshooter Gabe Madsen is taking a leap in his second season with the team, tallying 25 points, including six three pointers. Madsen is one of the best shooters in the conference, and he has proven capable of carrying the Utes offense. As long as he’s open, they’ll feel good about the chances of it going in.

The rest of the roster will have to help Madsen out with the spacing, because they don’t have a ton of great shooters. Wilguens Jr. Exacte, Lazar Stefanovic and Branden Carlson are pretty good floor spacers, but none are knockdown. If stiffer competition knows they can just tighten up on Madsen and let everyone else shoot, Utah may have trouble scoring at times. 

Exacte and Keba Keita continue to show flashes of potential. Both freshmen are young and raw, but Utah fully believes that they can help the team accomplish their goals this season. Exacte and Keita, along with Luka Tarlac who has yet to play due to injury, make up Utah’s trio of foreign freshmen who are hoping to make an impact in their first collegiate season.

Marco Anthony continues to miss time with a bruised heel. When he returns, he will likely be back in the starting lineup and adjust Utah’s rotation significantly, which has been all over the place so far this year.

The Utes are expected to win these games, but there have still been some encouraging signs so far in non-conference play. Up next, they’ll face Idaho State on Monday, who gave BYU some trouble earlier in the week.


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