SALT LAKE CITY—Utah’s first lead over Oregon State didn’t come until Brandon Taylor hit a free throw with 2:56 to play in the game, but the Utes didn’t look back. Utah (13-5, 2-3 Pac-12) kept their conference championship goals within reach after beating the Beavers (11-5, 2-3 Pac-12), 59-53.
However, Taylor’s free throw only came via the most usual of breaks. With the score tied at 52, Jakob Poeltl drove to the basket, hoping to give Utah its first lead in two games. OSU’s Jarmal Reid stole the ball from Poeltl, stumbled on his way out of the play, and inexplicibly—but certainly intentionally—stuck his leg out and tripped referee Tommy Nunez. Nunez tumbled to the floor, immediately glaring at Reid, issuing him a technical foul, which resulted in an ejection from the game after video review.
When you think you're being sneaky tripping a Pac-12 ref but you're not. https://t.co/Jh7KMw6qe3
— Ute Central (@utecentral) January 18, 2016
Instead of Oregon State having the ball with a chance to retake the lead, Taylor made his free throw to give the Utes a 53-52 lead and a valuable free possession. The Beavers would only score one more point as the Utes extended their lead inch by inch with free throws.
Utah closed out the game on a 21-5 run over the final 9:05 after a low-energy and frustrating first twenty minutes. The Utes trailed OSU 34-23 after a carbon-copy first half to Thursday’s game against Oregon. But in this game, the Utes held their opponent to 8-22 shooting and only one free throw, while the Utes shot 11-22 and made 11 of 15 free throws. Oregon State missed their last five shots and nine of their last eleven.
Poeltl led the Utes with 15 points and seven rebounds. Lorenzo Bonam scored nine points on 3-4 shooting, nearly all of his points coming in crucial moments.
Gary Payton II and Tres Tinkle led the Beavers with 11 points each.
Utah will now head northwest to face Washington State on Thursday and Washington on Sunday. Tipoff on Thursday will be at 9:00 with pregame coverage starting at 7:00 on ESPN700.
Larry Krystkowiak Postgame:
Dakarai Tucker and Jakob Poeltl Postgame:
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