HONOLULU — No Gordon Hayward.
No problem for the Butler Bulldogs.
Last year's NCAA runnerup doesn't have Hayward, the Utah Jazz rookie, any more, but in a 74-62 win over Utah Wednesday night, the Bulldogs looked very similar to the team that thrilled Salt Lake City fans with a pair of upsets in the Western Regional last March.
Butler improved to 7-4 in beating the Utes in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center as Matt Howard scored 23 points, Ronald Nored added 16, Shelvin Mack 13 and Khyle Marshall 11.
The Utes, who dropped to 7-4 with the loss, will play tonight at 10:30 p.m. MST against the loser of the Florida State-Hawaii game played late Wednesday night. After a day off Friday, the Utes will play a third-round game Saturday.
Josh Watkins led the Utes with 17points, Will Clyburn had his fourth double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Chris Hines and Shawn Glover added 10 points apiece.
"I thought we battled in the second half," said Utah coach Jim Boylen. "But again, we dug ourselves a hole in the first half and against good teams, it's difficult to make those runs. We had a little bit of a lull at both ends of the floor in the middle of that first half. And they built their lead, and it was difficult to overcome."
Like in their other three losses, first-half turnovers were costly to the Utes as they had 11 turnovers compared to just two for Butler when they fell behind by 13.
The Utes also struggled from the free-throw line, making just 14 of 25 for the game, while the Bulldogs were 22 of 32.
"I'm concerned about our free-throw shooting," said Boylen. "It's actually 14 for 28 if you count the one-and-ones we missed."
Trailing 40-27 at halftime, the Utes fought back and were within single digits several times, but could never get closer than six points.
The Utes started a comeback with a free throw by Watkins and a sensational dunk from the baseline by Clyburn that brought the fans out of their seats and a quick timeout by Butler coach Brad Stevens.
Utah got within six at 44-38 on a 3-pointer by Hines with 15:01 left and still trailed by seven at 54-47 midway through the half. That's when Nored, who came into the game 1-for-7 from 3-point range, sank a three from the corner that Boylen thought was a killer for Butler.
Early on the Utes led 13-10 before the Bulldogs went on a 23-5 run to go up 33-18 with 6:07 left as the Utes kept turning the ball over.
"We played well in the second half, but we dug ourselves a hole and it was too late to beat a good team," said Clyburn.
"We're just not following the game-plan," said David Foster, who broke the tournament record for blocked shots with seven. "We knew from the get-go what Butler was going to do. We just weren't patient."
In the first two games at the Diamond Head Classic Wednesday, Baylor blasted San Diego 83-50 and Washington State crushed Mississippi State 83-57.
UTE NOTES: Ute forward Jay Watkins sat out for the second straight game with a sore back, but might play later this week. ... J.J. O'Brien, who has missed the last nine games with a stress fracture, got back to action Wednesday and played 12 minutes and scored one point. ... Jason Washburn got into early foul trouble and only played eight minutes before fouling out with no points and two rebounds. ... Boylen was called with a technical foul midway through the second half. ... In the only other meeting between the Utes and Bulldogs, the Utes won 95-66 in Salt Lake in 1966. ... Utah was coming off a come-from-behind victory over Boise State Friday, while the Bulldogs had smashed Stanford 83-50 in their most recent game Saturday. ... The Utes' next game after the Hawaii tournament is Dec. 31 at the University of Portland.
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