SALT LAKE CITY — Going into Sunday night’s game, Utah’s only senior, Renan Lenz, had scored a grand total of 15 points in Pac-12 play after missing four games with an injury and seeing his playing time dwindle to almost nothing.
However, Sunday night, Lenz nearly matched his previous Pac-12 numbers by scoring 14 points and helping key a quick start in the Utes’ easy win over Arizona State.
It must have been that Brazilian cooking.
Lenz’s parents are in town for 10 days to see their son’s final home games, and the guy who’s called “Henna” has enjoyed getting some Brazilian cooking from his mom.
“This was the first time they’ve come out to America to see me play and that gives me a little more motivation,’’ he said. “And I got some home-cooked meals.’’
Lenz started the first 13 games of the season for the Utes, but was replaced in the starting lineup by Jeremy Olsen and then Dallin Bachynski. An ankle injury against Washington State put him down for a couple of weeks and he’s had five scoreless games in seven contests since returning.
Lenz entered Sunday's game at the 13:59 mark of the first half, and less than a minute later he sank a 15-footer. Then over the next five minutes, he scored eight more points and finished the half with 10 points in just six minutes of play. Then he added four more in the second half, giving him 14 points in 13 minutes. For good measure, he added three blocked shots.
“I’m a big believer in Henna — I thought he was terrific,’’ said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “The timing couldn’t have been more perfect with his family being here in the states for the first time ever and gearing up for senior night. Certain things you say, 'It was just supposed to happen that way.'"
Krystkowiak also expressed regret in the way he has played Lenz the last couple of months, saying “It’s probably on me that he hasn’t had more opportunities this year. But two days ago I told him to get ready to go and I thought he held up great tonight.’’
BACHYNSKI BATTLE: The final regular-season battle of the Bachynski brothers turned out to be a dud.
This marked the fourth time Canadian brothers Jordan (ASU) and Dallin (Utah) have had a chance to play against each other in college.
Neither had very good nights as Jordan finished with five points on 1-of-6 shooting while Dallin had two points on 0-of-3 shooting. Each player did have six rebounds, while Jordan, the nation’s leader in blocked shots, had three blocks, and Dallin two.
SUNDAY CROWD: This marked the Utes’ third Sunday home game since joining the Pac-12 three years ago. And once again the attendance was down from non-Sunday games.
After averaging 12,442 in league games, second-best in the conference behind Arizona, the Utes had their lowest turnout since early December with 10,401.
In last year’s two Sunday home games, the Utes drew 7,769 against Stanford and 11,712 against Arizona.
UTE NOTES: Former Ute receiver Steve Smith, who plays for Carolina in the NFL, was in town and had a parade of autograph seekers during the game and afterward. ... Others in the crowd Sunday were Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey, former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and former Ute Johnnie Bryant, who works in player development for the Jazz. ... As part of Salute America Night, the Utes had “Freedom” on the back of their jerseys instead of their names. ... Arizona State assistant Stan Johnson was an Ute assistant under Jim Boylen for three years. ... This marked the third straight year the Utes have beaten the Sun Devils at the Huntsman Center. In 2012, they won 62-43 and last year won 60-55.