The final home game of the non-conference portion of this year’s schedule was highlighted by the long-awaited debut of incoming transfers, Sedrick Barefield and David Collette. The game wasn’t so much about the opponent, the Prairie View A&M Panthers, rather about how the two players would change the dynamic of the team and how long it will take for the team to develop chemistry with the additions.
It would only take a few seconds before the impact on the court was felt as the Utes cruised past the Panthers, 92-60, to improve their record to 7-2 on the season.
David Collette has always been described as a high motor player that leaves everything out on the court. After having to sit on the bench and be relegated to practice only for over a year’s time, Collette made his way into the starting lineup for Utah. Eager to make his presence known, on the first defensive possession Collette stepped in front of a penetrating Troy Thompson in attempt to draw a charge. He was ruled to have been inside the circle and was charged with a blocking foul, but in the process set the precedent that nothing would come uncontested in the paint while he was on the court.
On the ensuing possession, Collette slipped down to the low block as Lorenzo Bonam drove to the paint, allowing an easy passing lane. As the defense combined on Bonam, Collette made himself a target, Bonam dropped him the ball and Collette double clutched a layup against his defender for his first points as a Ute. In the first two minutes of the game Collette provided the Utes with 6 points, one rebound and a block as Utah jumped to a 7-1 lead. His second field goal came on a big-to-big pass, as Kyle Kuzma got stuck on the top elbow, Collette once again adjusted his body position to become a target and Kuzma found him on the low block for an easy two.
Collette, however, had a difficult time harnessing all of his energy and became his own worst enemy by getting into early foul trouble and forcing the coach’s hand to sit him on the bench. Utah welcomes his physicality and smooth post moves. With the added capable body, Utah can use a more natural lineup with Jayce Johnson coming off the bench and Tyler Rawson moving to the power forward position.
In his debut, College finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in only 17 minutes of action.
A Shooting Threat in Barefield
Over the season Utah has struggled to find a consistent threat from beyond the arc, something that makes defending Utah very simple. Defenses simply can move underneath the high pick and rolls making it tough for Bonam, Jojo Zamora, and Devon Daniels to penetrate and things become difficult for the Utes.
It appeared that Barefield would not be able to help in the cause when he first checked in for Utah off of the bench. Barefield had a wide open look at a three pointer from the top of the key, the hopeful shooter set his feet and with perfect form rose into a jumpshot. The anticipation soared and then crashed to the ground as his first shot failed to draw iron. The airball send a feeling of doubt throughout the Huntsman Center, Utah didn’t have a shooter in their back pocket.
Or did they? Just over a minute later Barefield once again had a great look, this time from the right side. Just as before he used his perfect form, and a surprising look of confidence for having just airballed a shot, and this time the ball only touched net as it passed through the rim. True shooters forget quickly and Barefield showed that his memory is limited. After the humiliating first shot, Barefield would go on to have a great night shooting from deep. The SMU transfer scored 18 points in his first contest, making 62.5% of his three pointers (5-8).
In Barefield, Utah brings in another dynamic backcourt player. He has an extremely good handle on the ball, demands respect as a shooter and has great court vision allowing him to make correct and deadly passes. He showed his vision when Parker Van Dyke chased down a long rebound and began a fast break. Van Dyke hit Barefield who was running the left lane, Barefield took one bounce and then lobbed the ball high to Kyle Kuzma who got behind the defense for an alley-ooo.
One cause of concern for Barefield is that he finished the night with five turnovers. That is something that he will have to control and will likely fix itself as he plays more minutes with his teammates and get a better feel of their abilities and tendencies.
Season Best First Half
The game was decided early on in the game. Utah had its best shooting performance of the season in the first 20 minutes against the Panthers. The ball moved better for Utah in the first half than it had all season. All five guys on the court were willing to make the extra pass and nobody stood around away from the ball. With so much motion Utah was able to take high quality shots. At one point Utah had made 15 of 18 field goal attempts (83.3%) with 11 of those being assisted. Obviously the Utes couldn’t maintain that production forever, but they’d still finish the half with a 71.4% performance on 20-28 shooting. Sixteen of those twenty buckets came by way of assists. Overall it was a great step in terms of building chemistry to the now complete Utah lineup.
Kuzma Quietly Dominates
With all the attention on the newcomers, it was easy to miss another impressive night from Kuzma. In the first half it appeared that he was on his way to his first career triple double. Kuzma had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the first half. Kuzma had one of his most efficient games as a Ute. After hitting all four of his shots in the first half, the junior would end up with 18 points, shooting 71% from the floor. With his point already being in double figures, Kuzma grabbed seven second half rebounds to move his total to 15. However, once again he would fall shy of the triple double. Kuzma was unable to add to his first half assist total and finished with a respectable 18 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.
The Utes will next leave the mainland as they head off to Hawaii to compete in the Diamond Head Classic. Utah will play three games in four nights. First off will be a matchup against the San Fransisco Dons from the West Coast Conference. The game will tip off late Thursday night at 9:00 PM MT and will be available on ESPNU.