SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah Utes (6-1) stormed out of the gates to a massive early lead on BYU (4-2), leading by as many as 24 points in the first half. With reversed roles in the second half, BYU cut the Ute lead to seven, but Utah eventually prevailed over their rivals to the south, 83-75.
In nearly every chapter of the Utah-BYU rivalry, there is an underlying story, and this one is no different. With less than two minutes to play in the game, BYU’s Nick Emery hit Utah’s Brandon Taylor with a left hook under the basket.
BYU head coach Dave Rose said Emery may have retaliated to Taylor’s arm being high, near his face, but officials ruled that a basketball play. They weren’t so dismissive of Emery’s punch, and he was ejected from the game as a result.
Taylor claimed Emery had said something “very foul” to him after the punch, and would not repeat it to the media.
The punch landed on the back end of a BYU comeback effort after the Utes pounced early. Utah finished the first half shooting 52.9% from the field, and holding BYU to 35.5%. BYU opened up the half on a 15-2 run, including the start of Chase Fischer’s 26 points, all scored in the second half.
Jakob Poeltl was a key stabilizer for the Utes, scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, and only committing two fouls in a foul-heavy game. Kenneth Ogbe described Poeltl as “our most important player. Ogbe threw in 13 points, including three buckets from beyond the arc. Four Utes and four Cougars scored in the double-digits.
The Utes’ shooting improved after the slow second half start, the second portion of what Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak described as three different games. The Utes and Cougars exchanged scoring blows until the Utes finally bled out the clock with the win.
Utah now trails the all-time series with BYU 129-128 after their third straight win over the Cougars. Utah has not lost a non-conference home game with December 2012.
Utah will face IPFW at the Huntsman Center on Saturday at noon. Pregame coverage on ESPN700 will begin at 10:00.
Larry Krystkowiak Postgame:
Brandon Taylor, Kenneth Ogbe Postgame:
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