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Utah Men’s Basketball Routs California Behind Carlson’s 30 Point Performance

Carlson’s 30 points led all scorers. He also added 10 rebounds to record a double-double, one of three Utes on the night.
University+of+Utah+Men%E2%80%99s+Basketball+guard+Hunter+Erickson+%280%29+and+center+Lawson+Lovering+%2834%29+in+the+game+vs.+the+Colorado+Buffaloes+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+4%2C+2024%2C+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 Hunter Erickson (0) and center Lawson Lovering (34) 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 (18-11, 9-9 Pac-12) came into tonight’s matchup with the California Golden Bears looking to build off of their 22-point win two nights prior. The Utes started the game strong, grabbing the early lead and never looking back. The score sat at 42-32 heading into halftime, and the second half would be more of the same for Utah as they continued to grow their lead. Three Utes put up double-double performances for the first time this season as Utah dominated from the tip. The Utes shot an astounding 50.8% from the field and 41.4% from 3-point range en route to a dominating 88-59 victory.

First Half

Utah started the first half hot, storming out to a 15-7 lead thanks to a Branden Carlson 3-pointer on a beautiful feed by Deivon Smith. The Utes continued to lean on the Cal defense, slowly but steadily building the lead. With 7:20 remaining in the half, a Carlson dunk pushed the lead to 10 and energized the Huntsman Center crowd. The remainder of the half saw the two teams exchange buckets until a Gabe Madsen three at the 3:14 mark pushed the lead to a comfortable 11 points. Utah was able to hold strong for the remainder of the half, taking a 42-32 lead into halftime.

The Utes pushed the pace throughout the majority of the first half, looking to get Smith to the rim before the Cal defense could get back in transition. Smith was able to take advantage of the Golden Bears defensive lapses all throughout the first half, drawing fouls and kicking out to open shooters.

In a game Utah never trailed, the defensive effort was phenomenal, limiting fast-break opportunities and holding the Golden Bears scoreless for long stretches. The Utes were able to limit the steady offensive rebounding attack from Cal with physical box outs by Lawson Lovering, Keba Keita and Carlson.

Utah needed to continue pushing the ball in transition and allowing Smith to find the lethal shooting of Cole Bajema and Madsen in order to put away a tenacious Cal team.

Second Half

The second half began how the first half ended as both teams exchanged buckets back and forth until back-to-back stops for Utah led to a Carlson 3-pointer to extend the lead to 15. The defense continued to play suffocating perimeter defense, making it hard for Cals leading scorer Jaylon Tyson to get going offensively. Without the scoring ability of Tyson, Utah was able to play a free-flowing offense, leading to a 65-45 lead on a tough 3-pointer by Madsen. The Utes never looked back, outscoring Cal 46-27 in the second half, leading to a crucial 88-59 win.

Utah has been dominant in the second half all year, coming back from large deficits and finding a way to claw their way back after struggling in the first half. Having a 10-point lead after the first half was huge for Utah, as they were able to control the pace of the game and force Cal to make adjustments defensively.

Utah’s length down low has been an advantage on the glass this year, and that theme continued as Utah outrebounded Cal 47-29. Another key category the Utes dominated in was the distribution of the ball, as Utah tallied 20 assists as a team to just 11 from the Golden Bears.

Utes Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Carlson led all scorers, putting up an efficient 30 points on 12-17 from the field and 4-6 from 3-point range. Carlson was able to add 10 rebounds to his incredible night, finishing with his fifth double-double of the season. Another double-double was put up by Smith, as he scored 18 points and dished out 10 assists, as he continues to be one of the best transfer portal additions in the Pac-12. Madsen quietly filled it up, scoring 17 points, a majority coming in the big Utah second half. Keita was able to secure the third double-double performance for the Utes tonight, scoring eight points on 3-4 shooting and securing 10 hard-fought rebounds. Lovering scored six of his own and added eight rebounds to round out the majority of the Utah offensive production.

What’s Next for the Utes?

The Utes will head to Corvallis to take on the Oregon State Beavers in their second-to-last game of the year. The game will tip off at 9:00 p.m. MST on Thursday, March 7. Don’t miss the action on ESPNU as the Utes look to continue their excellent play.

 

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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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