SALT LAKE CITY — There must have been some magic in that old white sweater they found. For when they placed it on their bench, the Utah Utes began to ... (yes, it was one of those nights).
From then on out, there was plenty of thumpety, thump thump in the Huntsman Center.
On a night when the late Rick Majerus was honored with tributes that included the placing of one of his trademark sweaters over the first seat on the bench, the Utes did the program's former coach proud — handily defeating Boise State, 76-55.
“It was a neat night for all of us,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It’s been an emotional week as well in a lot of ways.”
Majerus, who died last Saturday at the age of 64, served as primary motivation in the Utes’ fourth consecutive victory (all by double figures) at home.
“We talked about it before the game. There’s no doubt that Coach is in the building. Our guys just played really inspired,” Krystkowiak said. “They just played as hard as they possibly could on all the possessions and I thought the assistants did a great job with the game plan.”
Senior Jason Washburn acknowledged that the Utes really wanted this one. He agreed that Majerus’ presence was felt.
“He was right there with us,” Washburn said. “He was sitting there on the bench with us.”
Jarred DuBois paced Utah with 18 points. Washburn and Jordan Loveridge finished with 13 and 11, respectively. Glen Dean contributed a game-high nine rebounds and six assists.
The Utes never trailed and led by 26 at one point in the second half. They wound up outrebounding Boise State by a 31-18 margin and held the Broncos to 40.4-percent shooting.
Utah broke things open with an early 15-0 run while building a 41-25 halftime advantage. They shot 75 percent from the field in the decisive first half, making 15-of-20 attempts.
“We pieced together stops and when we do that the offense opens up,” DuBois said. “If we can piece together three, four, five stops on the defensive end we’re going to end up getting good shots on the offensive end.”
Krystkowiak also noted that his team’s defensive intensity led to the basket opening up on the other end. He acknowledged taking a page out of Boise State’s scheme after watching the Broncos (6-2) on film and seeing how they spread the floor in a narrow loss to No. 15 Michigan State and a recent victory at No. 11 Creighton.
Contributions were plentiful during the first half. DuBois topped eight scorers with 14 points, while Dean led six Utah rebounders with five. A half-dozen Utes were also credited with assists over the first 20 minutes. Dean and Cedric Martin led the way with three apiece.
“You could just feel like some type of energy just kind of come in and just take over,” Dean said. “We just rolled it. We came out, hit our first few shots and got rolling.”
The Utes, who equaled last season’s win total in improving to 6-2, face rival BYU Saturday in Provo.
“We’re going to enjoy it tonight and then we’re back at the drawing board tomorrow,” Krystkowiak said.
EXTRA STUFF: This was Utah’s widest margin of victory over a Division-I opponent since an 88-48 win over Southern on Nov. 21, 2009. ... The attendance was 7,896 and included former Utah great Billy “The Hill” McGill. ... Derrick Marks and Mikey Thompson led Boise State in scoring with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
Email: email@example.comTwitter: @DirkFacer
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company