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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Madsen and Smith Lead Utah Men’s Basketball Over Colorado

The two senior guards put on an offensive masterclass, helping Utah claim an important win after struggling on the road.
University+of+Utah+Men%E2%80%99s+Basketball+guard+Deivon+Smith+%285%29+in+the+game+vs.+the+Colorado+Buffaloes+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+4%2C+2024+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City.+%28Photo+by+Mary+Allen+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Mary Allen
University of Utah Men’s Basketball guard Deivon Smith (5) in the game vs. the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The Utah Men’s Basketball team (15-7, 6-5) came into this matchup against the Colorado Buffaloes (15-7, 6-5) straight off back-to-back road losses and looking to rebound with a huge home win. The score was tied at 31 apiece heading into halftime, with both teams playing solid defense and limiting fast break points. Early on in the second half, however, Utah caught fire from the field and never looked back, capturing a massive conference win, 73-68. The 5-point win helps push the home winning streak to 12 in a row heading into a home matchup against the Pac-12 Conference-leading Arizona Wildcats.

First Half

The first half was fairly low scoring as both teams showed their defensive resilience, limiting easy looks and slowing down the fast-paced offenses that each team has displayed all season. The first half saw 10 lead changes and eight tied scores throughout the tightly contested matchup, setting up an exciting second half in one of the most important conference games of the season thus far.

Deivon Smith continued his dominant play, putting up six points, five rebounds and five assists in the first half to pace the Utah offense. Buckets were hard to come by early on, but Cole Bajema knocked down two three-pointers and a free throw for seven points to lead the Utah first-half scoring attack. Gabe Madsen started off strong, chipping in six points, while Ben Carlson tallied five off the bench to round out the majority of the first-half scoring.

Utah’s first-half defense was dominant, as they held Colorado to just 36% shooting from the field and 13% from three-point range. The Utes were able to knock down 41% of their first-half field goals, but the Colorado rebounding advantage was able to generate second-chance opportunities, which in turn helped them stay competitive early on. The Utes were out-rebounded 24-16 throughout the first half, and that needed to be fixed at halftime for Utah to pull out the much-needed win.

Second Half

The second half was a different story for the Utah offense, as Madsen came out and knocked down two quick threes to give Utah a 42-37 advantage. At the 13:30 mark in the second half, Smith was able to convert an and-one opportunity to push Utah’s lead to 47-38. The Utah defense picked up the intensity in the beginning of the second half, allowing the Buffaloes just eight points throughout the first 10 minutes.

At the eight and a half minute mark, Hunter Erickson knocked down a massive three-pointer to give Utah their biggest lead of the game at 13 points. The Utes continued to score the ball at a high clip down the stretch as they held a commanding 12-point lead heading into the final media timeout.

Colorado would not go away, however, as they cut the lead to just three points before the final minute thanks to a jumper by star point guard KJ Simpson. Clutch free throw shooting by Erickson and Madsen combined with the ability to break the Colorado full-court press were the difference makers down the stretch as Utah closed this one out to secure a crucial resume-boosting win, 73-68.

Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Smith was just one assist away from notching his second triple double of the season as he put up a dominant line of 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in his sixth straight start. Madsen put on an offensive masterclass, notching 21 total points, 15 of those coming in the second half. Colorado transfer Lawson Lovering was a spark off the bench against his former team, as he came in and scored nine points while grabbing eight rebounds.

What’s next for the Utes?

On Thursday, Feb. 8, Utah will take on the No. 11 Arizona Wildcats at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in arguably the biggest game for the Utes this season. This much-anticipated matchup will tip off at 6:00 p.m. MST as Utah puts their undefeated home record on the line.

 

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@Kylegarr23

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About the Contributors
Kyle Garrison, Sports Writer
Kyle garrison grew up in Spring Lake, Michigan. He moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism. Kyle plans on pursuing broadcast journalism as a career once graduating from the University of Utah. Kyle started with the Chronicle this fall and has loved every minute of working with the team.
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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