We've got a nice combination, post plays and guys are making some threes . . . a little versatility. —Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah basketball team came into Thursday night’s game against No. 25-ranked USC as the nation’s 11th-best shooting team at 50.1 percent from the field.
Yet for the first four-and-a-half minutes of the game, the Utes looked like they might not make a shot all night as they missed their first five shots and quickly fell behind the Trojans 10-0.
Then, after the first media timeout, the Utes regrouped. Lorenzo Bonam drove the lane for a basket, Kyle Kuzma scored on a follow-up shot, David Collette scored inside, Kuzma sank a 3-pointer and then hit a hook shot in the lane and just like that the Utes grabbed a lead they held for pretty much the rest of the night in the 86-64 victory.
For the game, the Utes shot 55.2 percent from the field, but if you take away the first four minutes when it looked like there was a lid on the hoop, the Utes shot 60 percent, which would be their top percentage of the season, topping the 59 percent they shot against Prairie View A&M.
Ute coach Larry Krystkowiak said he wasn’t too worried about the Utes' early shooting woes because there were “three bunnies at the rim that rolled in and out” while Kuzma, said “the rim was closed and then opened up.”
Over the final 15:25 of the first half when the game was essentially decided, the Utes shot 78.3 percent from the field on 18 of 23 and outscored the Trojans 44-21.
“We responded,” said Krystkowiak. “We’ve got a nice combination, post plays and guys are making some threes . . . a little versatility.”
The Utes scored inside, with Collette putting in 15 points and Kuzma getting 12, and outside, where freshman Devon Daniels led the way with 17, Bonam 15 and Sedrick Barefield 14.
With Daniels leading the way by hitting 3 of 3 from beyond the arc, the Utes shot 9 of 17 from long range and their 52.9 percent was their best of the season, bettering the 50 percent in their last game, against Arizona State.
Even the 6-foot-10 Collette got into the act sinking a 3-pointer from out front in the first half, his first attempt as a Ute after going just 2 of 6 when he was at Utah State.
When asked if he would be shooting more threes, Collette smiled and said, “Probably not — there’s a reason I don’t shoot them often.”