Men's Basketball Cruises Past Westminster in Exhibition
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah men's basketball team now turns its attention to Abilene Christian after cruising past Westminster 87-51 Thursday night in an exhibition game at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The first half started a little slow for the Utes, but by the 10:05 media break, the Utes had built up a 16-10 lead on the heels of an 8-0 run before David Jenkins Jr. hit his first of two back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead to 22-12.
Utah's offense continued to roll past the Westminster defense the final 6:55 minutes of the first half and went on 12-4 run to take a 39-20 advantage into the break.
The Runnin' Utes feasted in the paint and scored 22 of their 39 points in the paint while converting five offensive boards into nine points the first 20 minutes of action. The Utes also saw 11 different players get time on the court while nine found the bottom of the basket.
— Utah Basketball (@UtahMBB) November 5, 2021
Utah's offense continued its upward trajectory in the second half fueled by Gabe Madsen, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second frame on 3-of-5 from deep – including the elusive four-point play with 1:40 left to go.
Madsen's 16 points was a team-high for the Utes followed by 13 points from Jenkins Jr. and 11 points from Branden Carlson. Lahat Thioune led the team on the glass, pulling down eight to go along with his six points.
As a team Utah also shot 51.5-percent from the floor with a .429 clip down range while holding Westminster to just a .365 shooting clip.
BY THE NUMBERS
Utah played all 13 available players Thursday … Utah shared the ball well, dishing out 20 assists as a team on 34 made shots – 12 of which came from 3-point range … Utah dominated the glass, outrebounding Westminster 44-27 – including a 20-3 edge in second-chance points from 13 offensive boards.
Head Coach Craig Smith
Initial thoughts from the game…
"You know, we cleaned up some things. In the first half, I didn't think we rebounded really well. We gave up four offensive boards, second half we only gave up two. That's important. Then, overall, it's just exciting to get out there. That's why we played this game, because this is the first time some of these guys have ever put on a University of Utah uniform. It's been twenty months since they played in front of fans. It's the first time they've walked down that hall after we come out of the locker room and go out there as a new team. If you're talking about what we wanted to get out of it, what we got out of it, certainly we've got to tighten things up and be prepared to play an Abilene Christian team."
#1 – Guard – David Jenkins Jr.
On feeling each other early on in the game before the offense settled in…
"We tried to feel each other out, get everything going, but I think one think we don't lack is toughness. I think we played hard the whole game. We always showed up. I think that's one thing that will carry a team no matter what. When the shots are not following or something isn't going your way overall, if we play hard, I think it will all come back around because we all try to keep that blue collar mentality. That just means we are going to keep going, keep working harder no matter what. But, we started making shots, we started seeing it all come together a little bit."
#55 – Guard – Gabe Madsen
On how it felt to get back on the court not having played much since high school…
"Obviously, it's really nice to have a scrimmage and be out there in front of some people to feel what it will be like a little bit. We like to just go out there and compete, so it was definitely fun to get out there."
On whether not they thought the Jon M. Huntsman Center is a shooter's gym or not…
"It was nice to see the ball go in, but there was something at the beginning with some shots going up we probably got distressed like a year ago or something. But, you know I just kind of kept that shooters mentality of next shot and I think that's what it's all about. Some days you're going to see it go in go in, some days you're not. It was nice to see the ball go in for sure."
The Runnin' Utes will officially kick off their season next Tuesday, November 9, at 6 p.m. (MT) inside the Jon M. Huntsman Center against Abilene Christian out of the Western Athletic Conference. Todd Harris will have the call while former Utah assistant Joe Cravens serves as the analyst on Pac-12 Mountain.
For the latest news and information on the Runnin' Utes men's basketball program, fans can stay connected online at www.UtahUtes.com and on social media by following @UtahMBB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.