Some kids like to play in front of crowds, in the lights. Kenneth shot the heck out of it tonight. He played great. —Larry Krystkowiak, Utah head coach
SALT LAKE CITY — He says he doesn’t care to dunk much, but Utah freshman Kenneth Ogbe sure showed how to do it, making the highlight play in Wednesday's “Night With the Runnin’ Utes” at the Huntsman Center.
Early in the second half the 6-foot-6 Ogbe went flying down the lane and “posterized” teammate Princeton Onwas with a slam dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.
It was one of several impressive plays by the 18-year-old from Germany, who led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range.
“I don’t know why, but I’m never thinking of dunking the basketball,’’ Ogbe explained afterward. “But (assistant) coach (DeMarlo) Slocum told me to dunk sometimes. When I went to the basket, something said, 'Just dunk it.' I think I did pretty good."
Ogbe was one of seven newcomers in the red-white scrimmage, won by the red team 70-66. The teams were playing a 40-minute game, complete with media timeouts, until five minutes mysteriously disappeared from the clock midway through the second half.
“Some of the guys were gassed,’’ said coach Larry Krystkowiak. “The last thing you want to do is get somebody hurt when guys are dragging.’’
Krystkowiak was happy overall with his young team’s play Wednesday and was particularly pleased with Ogbe, who struggled earlier this week in practice.
“Some kids like to play in front of crowds, in the lights,’’ he said. “Kenneth shot the heck out of it tonight. He played great.’’
When asked if that was true about playing in front of a crowd, Ogbe said, “I think so. I’m excited and nervous before every game, but I like to play in front of people and this is a great atmosphere at the Huntsman.’’
Besides Ogbe, another impressive newcomer was Delon Wright, a JC transfer from College of San Francisco. Wright, who Krystkowiak calls a “stat sheet stuffer,’’ finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and a couple of steals.
Among the veterans, Jordan Loveridge, minus 15 pounds from last year, finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, while Dakarai Tucker scored 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range. Also finishing in double figures was guard Brandon Taylor with 11 points.
The Utes will play their first exhibition game Nov. 1 against Saint Martin’s, with the home opener against Evergreen State on Nov. 8.