The Runnin’ Utes got their season started on Saturday night with a win over Northwest Nazarene. Utah recovered from a sloppy start to put the Crusaders away, 81-37.
After a pair of threes right out of the gate from Lorenzo Bonam and Parker Van Dyke, Utah cooled off and started turning the ball over. The Crusaders took advantage of a few sloppy Utah possessions and briefly brought the game within striking distance. The Runnin’ Utes had 13 turnovers in the first half. However, the Crusaders were never able to take the lead.
Kyle Kuzma and Tyler Rawson powered the Utes to a 10-2 run midway through the first half. That three-minute stretch got Utah in a good rhythm for the remainder of the game. The Runnin’ Utes put together a 17-4 run to closeout the first half, and put themselves on top 36-20 heading into the locker room. They would only need to score two points from there to secure a victory.
Utah kept their momentum going to start the second half. The Runnin’ Utes completely stifled the Crusaders, only allowing three points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Utah built their lead to 56-23 with 9:32 left before Maurice Jones finally stopped the bleeding by hitting a three for the Crusaders. That three pointer was the only one the Crusaders hit during the game. Northwest Nazarene went 1-25 from distance.
The Runnin’ Utes’ second unit effectively kept the Crusaders at bay for the remainder of the game. The final score was 81-37.
It was nice to see the Utes put away an inferior team despite early shooting problems and turnover trouble. We always make fun of the early season cupcakes, but every year someone ends up losing one of these games. For instance, UConn lost to Wagner at home this season. Utah showed poise and asserted their will as the game went on.
There are a lot of things to look forward to with this year’s team. Tyler Rawson looks like he can really play. He’ll be a nice presence for Utah on the interior and he has the ability to stretch the floor. Jayce Johnson was a force on the glass, pulling in 14 rebounds.
But the big standout was Kyle Kuzma. Kuz finished with 23 points, 19 rebounds and 4 assists. The 19 rebounds tied a career high. He’s already showing the veteran leadership many fans were hoping to get from him this year. He will have the ability to take over in tough situations this season.
Utah is now 1-0 on the season and they will look to add another win on Tuesday night against Concordia.
Kyle Kuzma (23 points, 19 rebounds, 4 assists) & Tyler Rawson (13 points, 5 rebounds)
First Half Highlights
Second Half Highlights