In a game dominated by runs and a 7 foot Austrian, this one will be remembered for a late game punch that left a Utah player on the floor near the end of Utah's 83-75 win over BYU.
We'll get to the punch heard round the Wasatch Front, but let's start with Jakob Poeltl, who made himself some money with a 26 point, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks, and only 2 personal fouls. When he caught the ball in the low post, BYU couldn't stop him. Hook shoots, spin moves, up and unders, drop-steps; he had it all on Wednesday night. And when BYU tried to counter with a zone to help pack it in, the Utes moved the ball well on the perimeter and went crazy from deep in the first half to blow the game wide open.
The surprise spot-start for Kenneth Ogbe ended up being the perfect move, and one that should give Utah a lot more options moving forward due to his versatility. He was hampering the BYU shooters from deep with his length, and hit timely shots throughout the first half, finishing with 13 points. The rest of Utah's starters got the job done with each scoring at least 9 points, and Brandon Taylor dished out 9 assists.
The surprise of the night? Lorenzo Bonam only playing 3 minutes. The coaches cited a lack of perimeter defense on his part as the reason, but it makes you wonder where he fits into the team's plans now the Ogbe is healthy. A few weeks ago Bonam looked like a linchpin. Now? Who knows?
Now we get to the Nick Emery punch of Brandon Taylor. It was unfortunate that someone did that, and there's no excuse for Emery's actions. Kudos to Taylor and the Utah team for keeping their cool after the incident. That's a credit to them and the coaching staff for teaching their players not to overreact. Utah doesn't do these kinds of things under Larry. You won't see it. If someone did, you can bet they'd be looking for a new place to play after that season.
This incident, and this game in general, has changed my viewing and tune of the Utah basketball team for 2015-16. I saw this as a tournament team, but thought that the ceiling was probably another sweet 16. I saw a team with a superstar last night, that was able to beat a solid team in a variety of ways, with a multitude of different options at their disposal. They can match up with pretty much anyone in the country and find a way to win, playing different varieties of basketball. I saw a team that was calm, cool, collected, and composed, with senior leaders that keep them all together and working as one. If they continue to gel, continue to develop, and continue to find who they are as a team, there are enough pieces for a legitimate tournament run.
At the end of the day, it was another Utah-BYU game that will be remembered for years, overshadowing a good performance by Utah. Every year, these games seem to be more intense than the previous matchup whether on the hardcourt or the gridiron. This one started with a bang, ended with a swing, and the rivalry continues to thrive (dpending on your point of view). See you in Vegas?