No. 21 Utah routs College of Idaho 115-74
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) The Utah Utes have a saying they repeat every day in practice: ''Respect the game.''
Facing the College of Idaho on Monday night, it didn't take long to see the 21st-ranked Utes weren't respecting much of anything.
''Sometimes young kids just don't understand what it means to respect the game,'' Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said of his team which trailed by 14 points in the opening minutes. ''We called a play from the jump ball and we didn't run it. We didn't run the second play and then we got fouled and we didn't huddle. We always huddle. So we were doing some things that showed our minds weren't in the right spot.''
Dakarai Tucker said the team got the message.
''We can't take anybody for granted,'' the senior guard said. ''We need to get the right mindset no matter who we are facing.''
Tucker and Kyle Kuzma both scored 17 points to help Utah survive the early scare and go on to a 115-74 victory.
Jakob Poeltl made all six of his field goal attempts on his way to 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Utes (11-2). Brandon Taylor scored 15 points and Lorenzo Bonam added 12 in the final tuneup for Pac-12 play, which begins later this week with three straight road games.
The Yotes raced to a 16-2 lead on the strength of four 3s and defensive pressure that forced three early turnovers. Krystowiak was red-faced on the sideline, substituted Poeltl and Kuzma after 1 minute of play and took an early timeout.
''That was a lesson for us,'' Krystkowiak said. ''We weren't dialed in.''
Aitor Zubizarreta scored 19 points and Joey Nebeker had 15 for the College of Idaho (7-7), an NAIA school from Caldwell, Idaho. The Yotes, who started four guards and a small forward, used a fast-paced spread attack that flummoxed the Utes in the opening minutes.
''What a special opportunity to play here and against this team,'' College of Idaho coach Scott Garson said. ''Our guys really competed out there and we can really shoot the ball. The thing that really got us going was we got a couple of stops early in the game. We stunned them for a few minutes.''
The Utes took their first lead at 24-21 with 10:47 left in the first half when Taylor hit a 3-pointer from the right wing. The basket was in the midst of a 12-0 run that was capped by Taylor's two free throws.
The Yotes drew within single digits once again when they hit 3-pointers on subsequent possessions and trailed 56-48 early in the second half.
''We just kept telling the team to let it fly. A couple of times we drove it in and got our shot blocked. I had to remind him we are a 3-point shooting team,'' said Garson, whose team made 14 of 39 from beyond the arc.
After the Utes got consecutive dunks from Poeltl and Tucker and then a layup from Isaiah Wright, the Yotes refused to fold. Zubizaretta and Coffin made 3s to cut it back to an eight-point deficit. However, that's when the long ball stopped falling for the Yotes.
From that point, the Utes rolled over the overmatched Yotes to their highest scoring point total of the season.
''We stopped doing the `me plays' and started working better as a team. We can't do it individually,'' Tucker said.
The Utes, who were several inches taller at most positions, dominated the rebounding totals 54-24. Utah shot 63 percent from the field, including 72 percent in the second half.
Utah extended its winning streak against non-conference foes to 28 games, the longest string of its kind since 2001-05.
PLAY SMART OR DON'T PLAY
Krystkowiak doesn't mind subbing his stars if they're not paying attention. ''We talked about turnovers and missed rebounding assignments that are non-negotiables. If you don't do it, you are coming out of the game,'' he said, ''I did that most of the game – if you make a careless play, you're coming out of the game.''
A SPECIAL PLACE
Garson was at Utah from 2000-05 and is glad to see the Utes on the national basketball map again. ''I told our guys this place is more special to me than any place other than the College of Idaho and I coached nine years at UCLA and other places. . This Utah team has as good a chance as anybody to win the Pac-12 this year. I'm so proud as a Utah fan and a Utah alum that the Utes are back in basketball.''
College of Idaho: The Yotes were called for 10 fouls before Utah had its first, which was drawn on a drive by Zubizaretta with 4:46 left in the first half. . Garson earned his Master's degree in sports psychology from Utah when he was an assistant for the legendary Rick Majerus. . The game was C of I's first against a Division I opponent since it lost 72-38 at Utah on Dec. 28, 2012.
Utah: Despite a recent team emphasis on limiting miscues, the Utes had 17 turnovers in the game and didn't score a point off the Yotes' turnovers in the first half. . Utah's 117 points marked the fifth time the Utes have scored 96 points or more this season. . All 12 Utes who played scored.
The College of Idaho hosts Evergreen on Thursday.
Utah visits Stanford on Friday.