SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a markedly different atmosphere than playing in Kentucky’s rowdy Rupp Arena Saturday afternoon, the Utah Utes bounced back from a lopsided loss to defeat Florida A&M 93-64 on Monday night.
The win in the Huntsman Center was attended by a sparse crowd (announced as 6,000) even with curtains covering the upper bowl. Below the draperies, though, the Utes improved to 5-5 on the season behind career-high scoring from senior Parker Van Dyke and freshman Timmy Allen. Van Dyke finished with 20 points and Allen had 16.
“There was nothing like Rupp Arena. That was incredible to play there — probably the best atmosphere I ever played in on the road,” said Van Dyke, who acknowledged that the change of environment might have played a role in a sluggish start by the Utes. “It’s a different kind of game, different competition. We go from playing Kentucky on Saturday night to playing Florida A&M. But that’s a challenge. I think that’s why we probably scheduled these kind of games.”
The lesson, Van Dyke noted, is the game must be approached the same way whether at Rupp Arena or at the Huntsman Center against the Rattlers. It’s something he said should help the youthful Utes grow — don’t disrespect the game, play hard regardless of the opposition, and do your best.
Van Dyke had a hot hand, making 7 of 9 shots from the field. He was 6 of 8 from 3-point range.
“Just a fun game. Fun to get back in the Huntsman Center and play,” Van Dyke said. “I just think overall my teammates did a great job of making plays for me and finding me when I was open.”
Utah finished with five players in double-figures. Besides Van Dyke and Allen, Sedrick Barefield (16), Riley Battin (12) and Jayce Johnson (12) also shot the ball well as the Utes played at home for the first time since Dec. 1.
“I wasn’t pleased with the first half energy, let them shoot 60 percent — didn’t have a steal, didn’t have a blocked shot. So it was a little disappointing,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, who admitted chewing some guys out at halftime. “And I thought the second half was better.”
The Utes led 44-34 at halftime. They outscored FAMU 49-30 after the intermission. Krystkowiak was pleased with the 38-17 rebounding advantage by game’s end and also said the team shared the basketball.
“It felt a lot better to participate in the second half than it did the first half,” Krystkowiak said.
At one point, Utah scored 11 straight points to enhance the rout. The Utes never trailed in a game that was tied just twice and featured no lead changes.Comment on this story
“We’re just trying to get better every day,” Allen said. “It’s a real grind right now, but we're heading in the right direction."
EXTRA STUFF: The Utes return to action Friday at home against Northern Arizona. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. . . . Sophomore guard Christian Popoola has left the program and is transferring elsewhere in search of more playing time. “We wish him nothing but the best,” Krystkowiak said. . . . Freshman Both Gach sprained his ankle in the Kentucky game and was limited to only 17-plus minutes and finished with just two points . . . Justin Ravenal had a team-high 20 points for FAMU.