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Unselfish Play Leads to Season-Opening Victory for Runnin' Utes

Nov 9, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY – Five players in double-figures led by a game-high 15 points from David Jenkins Jr. saw the Utah men's basketball team defeat Abilene Christian 70-56 in the 2021-22 season-opener Tuesday night in the Jon M. Huntsman Center and gave head coach Craig Smith a win in his debut.

With the win, Utah is now 99-16 overall in its home-openers and 79-13 overall when those home-openers have served as the season-opener. In total, the Utes are 87-26 all-time in its season-openers.
The start of the game was a slow back-and-forth, as the Utes took a small 9-7 lead heading into the 14:34 media break. Utah (1-0) looked like it would start to pull away heading out of the final media break (3:52) of the first half after 9-0 run but the Wildcats answered with a 6-0 run of their own. However, both squads headed into the locker room with Utah on top 34-27.
Jenkins Jr. and Rollie Worster paced the Runnin' Utes in the first frame with 11 points and 10 points, respectively, while the two combined to go 5-of-9 from 3-point range for the Utes.
ACU (0-1) cut the lead down to one possession early on in the second frame, 39-36. Jenkins Jr.'s then got fouled on a kick out from Branden Carlson to drain his fourth 3-pointer of the game before completing the four-point play and push Utah's lead back up to 45-36 out of the media break.
Both teams then had a tough time finding the bottom of the basket with each squad going on two-plus minute droughts before Carlson had a nice turnaround bucket to end it. Worster then knocked down a baseline jumper to force an ACU timeout at the 8:56 mark with the Runnin' Utes leading 51-39.
From there, it was all Utah as it went on a 12-5 run out of the 7:32 media timeout to take its largest lead of the game, 65-45, after Carlson drained both of his free throws with 4:44 remaining. Marco Anthony highlighted that short run with ferocious tomahawk dunk.

The Wildcats did their best to cut Utah's lead, but it continued to stay a double-digit advantage for the home team until the buzzer hit zeroes and gave head coach Craig Smith his first victory at the helm of the Runnin' Utes.
Jenkins finished with his game-high 15 points to go along with six rebounds on 4-of-9 from deep while Carlson added 14 points and nine boards. Worst had a great night as Utah's floor general, posting 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists while committing just one turnover in 37 minutes of action. Dusan Mahorcic had 11 points and eight rebounds in his debut as a Ute while Anthony rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points and nine rebounds. Riley Battin nearly had a double-double as well, posting eight points and 10 boards – seven of which were on the offensive glass.

Craig Smith is now 2-1 in coaching debuts at a new school with the win … the 22 offensive boards was the most in a game for Utah since pulling down 28 against Rice (December 3, 2005) in a triple OT game … the last time Utah had five players in double-figures was on March 6, 2021, vs. Arizona State … the last time Utah had 50-plus rebounds in a game was also the 2019-20 season-opener at Nevada (Nov. 5, 2019) with 51 … the 10 rebounds for Riley Battin ties his career-high that he's done twice – last coming against Stanford on Feb. 6, 2020 … with the win, first-year head coaches in the Pac-12 have now gone 10-4 in season-openers and will likely be 11-4 with Arizona leading Northern Arizona in Tommy Lloyd's debut.
The Utes remain at home to continue the three-game homestand as they welcome in Sacramento State this Saturday, Nov. 13, for a 7:30 p.m. (MT) tip-off. Fans that attend the Utah women's basketball home-opener can get free admission to the men's basketball game free on Saturday with their ticket. Todd Harris and Joe Cravens will once again have the call between the Runnin' Utes and Sacramento State Hornets on Pac-12 Mountain.

For the latest news and information on the Runnin' Utes men's basketball program, fans can stay connected online at and on social media by following @UtahMBB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.