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Battle for the Ages Ends in Heartbreak for Runnin' Utes

Mar 11, 2021

Box Score (PDF) | Postgame Highlights | Larry Krystkowiak Quotes | Timmy Allen Quotes

LAS VEGAS – A season not quite like any other ended with a game that'll go down for the ages as the Utah men's basketball season came to a close Thursday evening in heartbreak fashion, battling tooth-and-nail against the No. 2 seeded USC Trojans to tune of double overtime before ultimately falling 91-85 in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals at T-Mobile Arena.
Utah went up early heading into the first media break (15:58) of the game after Alfonso Plummer scored five-straight points, 7-4. The Utes then took a 14-11 lead midway through after Pelle Larsson fed Branden Carlson for the one-handed hammer. USC slowly mounted its comeback after Utah (12-13) hit a stretch where it wasn't able to convert on the offensive end and tied things up at 19-19 first. A quick 5-0 run out of the 7:54 media break saw the Trojans take their first lead of the game and held on to it into the break with Utah trailing 34-29.

Riley Battin cut the USC lead down to 42-39 out of the first media break in the second frame but a 3-point play on the other end from Ethan Anderson brought it back up to 45-39. After a pair of free throws from Allen, back-to-back 3-pointers from USC (22-6) extended its lead to 51-41 to force a Utah timeout (12:24).
It didn't take long for the Utes to regroup as Battin used a little English to get the reverse lay-in to fall before Ian Martinez elevated to sink a 19-footer with the shot clock winding down and bring Utah back within 51-45 of the Trojans with 11:23 left to go.
Plummer got the Utes within 61-58 with a nice pull-up by the stripe but a long offensive rebound landed into Drew Peterson's hands for USC and led to him draining a 3-pointer. The two teams then exchanged a couple buckets before heading into the final media timeout with Utah down 66-60 and 3:15 on the clock.
The cat and mouse game then began between the two teams. Down 68-65 with 1:16 remaining, Plummer was able to draw the foul on a deep three but missed the front end before hitting the next two. On the ensuing trip down on defense, Jantunen drew a huge charge on Peterson. A basket and free throws later, Utah still trailed 71-69 with 10 seconds left to play and called a timeout by its bench. With a clear lane to the basket, USC was called for a foul just before Martinez was able to finish flushing the ball in with two hands. With 2.3 seconds left to go, the freshman calmly hit both free throws to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Overtime saw a lot of back-and-forth action between the two teams, but Evan Mobley – who finished with 13 points between the two overtime periods – missed his second free throw midway through and allowed Plummer to tie it up with 32 seconds remaining and send the game into the second extra period. However, it costed Utah a pair of players as Martinez and Jantunen both fouled out with less than three minutes left.

Mobley continued to score and keep the Trojans alive in the second overtime, scoring eight of USC's 11 points in the final five minutes of play. The Utes did their best to keep within striking distance but couldn't get a bucket to fall in in the final 3:38 of play as USC pulled away.

Allen finished with a team-high 20 points and career-high 13 rebounds while Martinez finished with a season-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Plummer added 16 points of his own despite only hitting a couple of triples on the night. Jantunen rounded out the double-digit scorers for Utah, scoring 10 points on four rebounds – eight of his points came from the foul line.
Utah had four players foul out after two overtime periods – two of whom were starters … neither team shot particularly well from long-range, with Utah shooting 6-of-20 compared to USC's 6-of-17 … Utah led just 5:30 minutes of the game – most of which came in the opening minutes of the first half … rebounding battled finished in a tie, 39-39 … both teams shot well from the line with Utah at 83% (25-of-30) to USC's 74% (29-of-39) … Utah is now 7-10 all-time in the Pac-12 Tournament and 2-1 vs. USC.