Runnin’ Utes Splash 16 Threes in Blowout Over Jacksonville State


Jack Gambassi

University of Utah Men’s Basketball guard Lazar Stefanovic (#20, So.) in the NCAA Men’s Basketball game vs. Idaho State University at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


The University of Utah men’s basketball team picked up a win Thursday night against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, continuing their strong play as of late and moving their record to 8-2 on the season, including a 2-0 Pac-12 record compiled last weekend.

Utah started off the game with a 19-0 run, giving themselves a ton of breathing room to work with for the rest of the night following the strong start. The Gamecocks started to get things going midway through the first half, cutting the lead as low as 10, but the Utes fought back to make it a 45-23 lead at halftime. Utah finished the first half on an 11-0 run, which could have been more had they not missed a few wide open jumpers. Gabe Madsen led the way in the first half with 13 points on 50% shooting, including 3-6 from three-point range.

Utah boat raced the Gamecocks in the second half, catching fire from three and throwing down multiple nasty dunks en route to a 99-58 victory.

Keba Keita continues to show big flashes in the minutes that he’s given, tonight blocking a pull up attempt and then running the floor to catch a lob from Lazar Stefanovic for a massive slam. Branden Carlson also threw down multiple dunks during a stretch in the second half as the Utes cruised to victory. The Utes went 16-28 from three on the night.

“It seems like every play he makes is a big play,” Stefanovic said.

“That dude has a high motor,” said Utah head coach Craig Smith. “It doesn’t surprise anyone anymore.”

Prior to the game, the Utes announced that forward Gavin Baxter has medically retired from basketball. Baxter dealt with two torn ACLs along with a shoulder injury prior to his time at Utah. He transferred from BYU in the offseason, hoping for a fresh start and a clean bill of health, but ultimately it appears his body was not able to keep up with what the sport demands. 

Baxter was a flier for Utah in the offseason, as they were hopeful that he could come in and supply some quality minutes off the bench. Baxter is a talented player, no doubt, and the gamble was worth the potential upside. Unfortunately, his time with the Utes never really got off the ground.

“I think the world of Gavin,” Smith said. “We wish [him] the best as he moves into the next chapter of his life.”

Utah, coming off two Pac-12 wins, one over No. 4 Arizona and the other on the road against the talented Washington State Cougars in overtime, puts themselves in position to make a return to the AP Top 25 if they can keep this level of play up. Utah has not been ranked under Smith so far. They received votes in the most recent poll, putting them at No. 31 if the rankings were extended.

They have a chance to put a couple strong wins on their resume before the end of the month, with games against No. 24 TCU and BYU coming up. The Cougars have struggled so far this year, but a game in Provo is always big. They face the Horned Frogs at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Dec. 21.

First, though, the UTSA Roadrunners come to town on Dec. 13. The game tips off at 7 p.m. MST.


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