Chris Burgess and Britton Johnsen were still solid inside, but good coaches know how to take advantage of a zone defense, and Rick Majerus is as good as they come. The inside players consistenly found the open man outside, leading to the mind-boggling 10-14 shooting performance (.714) on three-pointers that did the Waves in.
The Utes jumped on top early by as many as eight. When the Waves caught them at 25, the Utes responded with a 19-8 run to take a 44-33 lead to the locker room. The second half was quite similar, as the Waves scratched and clawed their way back to within 61-57 before Utah's backbreaking 20-7 spurt. The Waves did score the final ten points of the game to make the final score respectable.
Southern California product Burgess had the one of the best games of his career, pouring in 19 points and nabbing 12 rebounds, both career highs as a Ute. The 6'10", 240-lb senior picked up where he left off at Firestone Fieldhouse last December, scoring on a series of dunks and putbacks.
6'9" Britton Johnson took advantage of the three inches he has on Waves power forwards Boomer Brazzle and Jimmy Miggins to tally 14 points and seven boards. Brother Jeff added 12 points.
Nick Jacobson led the Utah charge with 22 points and Travis Spivey dished out ten assists.
For the Waves, starting forwards Terrance Johnson and Jimmy Miggins continued their rock-solid early-season play. Miggins shot 8-16 to lead the team with 17 points. Johnson in particular was tremendous, shooting 6-8 overall and a perfect 4-4 beyond the arc for 16 points. In the Waves' balanced attack, a hot hand like that might not get the ball as much as he should.
Mike Westphal provided a bench spark, scoring 12 points on 5-7 shooting. His unexpected lift helped cover for the Waves' starting backcourt of Craig Lewis and Devin Montgomery shot a collective 0-7 with two points. Montgomery twisted his ankle in the first half and did not return.
Gary Colbert, a part-time starter at PG for the Utes in 1999-2000, made a solid return to the Huntsman Center with eight points. Boomer Brazzle had nine.
Overall, the Waves shot quite well, 47% overall, 41% from beyond the arc, and 87% from the charity stripe. But they were predictably outrebounded, 41-26, with no Wave tallying even five boards (Miggins, Westphal, and Cedric Suitt led with four apiece).
Pepperdine returns to action Wednesday with a home date against Long Beach State. It's a textbook trap game for the Waves, a home game against a good but unheralded opponent sandwiched between marquee road games against UCLA, Utah, and USC. Next Saturday's visit to UCSB is looking more dangerous every day, as well. The 2-2 Waves face a pivotal week in their nonconference schedule.