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Injury Riddled Utes Battle in Loss to #20/18 USC in Pac-12 Opener

Dec 1, 2021

LOS ANGELES – The Utah men's basketball team gave #20/18 USC its best shot despite going down to 10 available players Wednesday night in its Pac-12 opener loss to the Trojans 93-73 inside the Galen Center.
The opening minutes of the first frame started out well for Utah as it went back-and-forth with USC. David Jenkins Jr. gave the Runnin' Utes a short 14-12 lead after hitting both free throws before the Trojans answered with two-straight scores on the offensive end to take a 16-14 lead over Utah at the 11:39 mark before Branden Carlson went down on the defensive end with 11:03 on the clock.
The Utes hung tough with the Trojans the rest of the first half, despite the loss of Carlson, and kept USC within reach before back-to-back baskets by the home team forced a Utah timeout with 5:48 to go in the half down 29-21. However, that timeout wasn't successful at stopping USC as the Trojans finished the remainder of the half on a 19-7 run to put Utah behind 48-28.
Utah (5-2, 0-1 Pac-12) continued to fight in the second frame and brought the USC lead down to 61-45 heading into the 11:37 media break thanks to Jenkins Jr., who drained a triple from the wing with two seconds on the shot-clock. Gach and Jenkins then went back-to-back from beyond the arc to cut the Trojan lead down to 66-53 with 9:22 left to play.

The Runnin' Utes would get as close as 85-70 of the Trojans (7-0, 1-0 Pac-12) down the stretch on back-to-back 3-pointers from Jenkins Jr. and Gach before falling 93-73.
Gach scored 24 of his career-tying 28 points in the second frame, hitting 10-of-14 from the field while Jenkins Jr. added 21 points on 5-of-9 from deep. Riley Battin rounded things for Utah with 10 points while the rest of the team accounted for just 14 points.

Utah is now 5-3 all-time against #20 AP ranked opponents and 2-1 when playing them on the road … Utes are also now 11-60 all-time against AP ranked opponents on the road and 68-150 all-time against AP ranked opponents … Lahat Thioune finished the game with 11 rebounds for a new career-high … first time Utah had two players with 20-plus points in a game since March 10, 2021, against Washington in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament … Gach tied his career-high after sinking 1-of-2 free throws with 2:46 left to play …  the last time a player made 10-plus field-goals in a game was Timmy Allen (10) against Oregon State on March 3, 2021.
Utah returns home to the friendly confines of the Jon M. Huntsman Center as it welcomes in the California Golden Bears to wrap up the early Pac-12 games this Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks. Todd Harris and Matt Muehlebach will have the call on the game as first-year head coach Craig Smith makes his home debut in Pac-12 action. Ute fans that bring their ticket stub (digital or physical) from the women's basketball game against BYU can get a HALF-PRICED ticket to the men's game versus Cal.
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.