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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Utah Utes forward Donnie Tillman (3) drives into the lane as UC Davis Aggies forward Garrison Goode (44) falls to the floor as Utah and UC Davis play in an NIT basketball game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Utah won 69-59.

Utah's season isn't over yet after a furious fourth quarter lifted the Utes to victory over UC Davis, while BYU's 2017-18 campaign came to an end at the hands of Stanford. And oddly enough, both Dave Rose and Larry Krystkowiak picked up technicals (Krystkowiak actually got a second and was ejected) in their respective games. Here's a look at what's next for the Utes and Cougars after one round of the NIT:


The Utes seemed to like the fourth quarter in the ever-experimental NIT as they outscored UC Davis 22-11 on their way to a 69-59 win. The Utes extended their season and will get one more game at the Huntsman Center next Monday as they hope to make it to Madison Square Garden.

Up next: 18-14 LSU.

Sure, playing the No. 9 team out of the SEC doesn't seem that much of a challenge, but the Tigers have taken down some solid teams this season. LSU's victims include Big Ten tournament champion Michigan and NCAA Tournament No. 6 seed Houston of the American Athletic Conference.

The Tigers are led by freshman Tremont Waters, who has already made some jaw-dropping shots, including this game-winning three against Texas A&M:

Then there was this incredible effort to dive on the ball and pass it to a wide-open Skylar Mays to give LSU the lead over Michigan:

Suffice it to say that the Utes will prepare carefully for this 5-foot-11 freshman phenomenon. Waters averages 16.0 points, 5.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.

Duop Reath is another player to watch as he's a 6-11 forward from Australia who shoots 42.9 percent from behind the arc. Granted, Reath has attempted only 42 3-pointers on the year, but that's impressive for such a tall player.

However, LSU struggles at rebounding as the Tigers average just 33.5 per game, which is good enough for No. 279 in Division I. That said, the Utes aren't much better as they average just 33.7 boards per game. One big advantage Utah has, however, is on defense. The Tigers allow 73.9 points per game while the Utes allow only 68.7.


The Cougars' season ended in California as Stanford bounced BYU out of the NIT 86-83. BYU's final record is 24-11.

What now?

BYU didn't have a bad season. It didn't even have a meh season. It was a good season, but Cougar fans are clearly hungry for something better. And the Saint Mary's NCAA Tournament snub shows how high the price of admission has risen for teams from mid-major conferences.

The good news is that everybody comes back for BYU barring any offseason surprises. Just having both Elijah Bryant and Yoeli Childs back next season is huge.

But what BYU lacked is a consistent third scoring threat. While TJ Haws had the occasional great game, he just wasn't the player he was last season. He averaged two fewer points per game from the year before, and his 3-point percentage dropped from 40.4 to 32.3. The Cougars need Haws to get his shot back.

The big question, however, is how Nick Emery will do after taking a season off for personal reasons. Even if he maintains what he did in 2016-17, that's 13.1 points per game and gives the Cougars a fourth player averaging double-digit points.

And if some of the supporting cast of Dalton Nixon, Zac Seljaas, Jahshire Hardnett, Luke Worthington and McKay Cannon can step up their game over the offseason, it will provide some much-need depth to a team that relied a bit too much on Bryant and Childs.

While a 24-win season is never bad or even mediocre, the NCAA Tournament is the goal. Clearly, the Cougars have some work to do this offseason if they want to get back to the Big Dance.

Editor's note: This story has been updated for several points of clarity and grammatical correction.

Lafe Peavler is a sports strategist for the Deseret News and KSL.com. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.