Daniels, Kuzman lead Utah past Montana State 92-84
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) With the win over Montana State pretty well decided, someone in the crowd told Kyle Kuzma he was one assist off the first triple-double at Utah in 17 years.
Kuzma did everything he could to get that one extra assist including throwing an errant full-court pass.
Head coach Larry Krystkowiak, who celebrated his 100th win at Utah, wasn't pleased about Kuzma hunting for statistics.
''It was a heck of a game for Kooz. I told him to forget whether he had nine assists or 11 assists, I was pleased with his performance overall,'' Krystowiak said after Utah (5-1) defeated MSU 92-84 Thursday night. ''We just need some more maturity and discipline on our squad. We have a young team.''
Kuzma, who faced a double-team whenever he caught the ball in the post had 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.
Freshman Devon Daniels had a career-best 18 points and Tyler Rawson, a junior college transfer, also posted a career high with 17 points and nine rebounds for the Utes (5-1).
''They were doubling (Kuzma) and it was usually my man so I was just finding ways to get to the basket. He's a great passer,'' Rawson said.
JoJo Zamora added 15 points, Lorenzo Bonam had 12 and Parker Van Dyke chipped in 10.
''It was very obvious I wanted the triple-double. I threw a 94-foot pass and it was a turnover. But it's all good, I'm learning,'' Kuzma said.
Kuzma later found Daniels on a fast break with 1:04 to play but Daniels was fouled before he could make the layup and complete Kuzma's rare statistical benchmark. Kuzma, who played 38 minutes, went to bench before the free throws.
Tyler Hall paced MSU (5-3) with 22 points while Quinton Everett had 21 and Zach Green 15.
''They were the longest team we've played but I'm proud of my team. We played hard and we never gave up,'' Hall said, whose team never trailed by more than 15 points.
Green made a 3-pointer to cut Utah's lead to 52-49 early in the second half. Rawson made three baskets and a free throw while Daniels added a 3-point play to put the Utes up 66-56.
The Utes dominated the interior early and used a 24-9 rebounding advantage to stake a 47-35 lead at halftime. Ben Osayande was the first Bobcat to grab a rebound more than nine minutes into the game.
''That's the first time we've seen that size, that length that well-coached of a team and it bothered us,'' MSU coach Brian Fish said. ''We weren't exactly playing the Sisters of the Poor out there. That's a really good team and Kuzma's a next-level player as he grows and gets better.''
Montana State: The Bobcats have won all five of their home games, but have now dropped three in a row on the road. The biggest difference has been on the boards, where the Bobcats are outrebounded by more than 13 each away game, compared to a plus-9 advantage at home. Montana State made all three of its losses competitive.
Utah: After its first loss of the year against No. 18 Butler, the Utes bounced back against another outmatched opponent. Kuzma had his best all-around game of the season and the Utes had 21 assists after a four assist-18 turnover performance against Butler.
Long-time NBA player Andre Miller and current Utah Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen are the only two Utah players who have notched double figures in three categories. Miller did it against Arizona in 1998 NCAA Tournament and Jensen's gem was against Fresno State in 1999.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Utes outscored the Bobcats 52-20 in the paint.
Montana State returns home to face Milwaukee on Monday.
On Tuesday, Utah will play its seventh straight home game against Utah Valley.