The University of Utah destroyed the Washington road trip in dominating fashion, with its second blowout victory of the week. This time, it was a 94-72 victory over the Washington Huskies. With the win, the Utes improve to 14-5 on the season and 5-2 in Pac 12 play.
In order to best one of the nation’s best players in Markelle Fultz, the Utes would rely heavily on Lorenzo Bonam and Devon Daniels to attack the weak Husky defense and get high percentage shots at the rim.
Utah would be able live with Fultz getting 30 points in a solo effort thanks to a 20 plus point performance from three different players: Bonam, Daniels and Kyle Kuzma.
Utes on the Attack
Once again Utah would be without the services of David Collette, who has now missed two straight games due to concussion protocol. His absence would make it tougher for Utah to play a post game, given Jayce Johnson’s inexperience. Washington was without a key member as well. Malik Dime, Washington’s leading shot blocker, also missed the game as he is recovering from a pinky finger injury. Without the Huskies’ best rim protector the game plan for Utah became a one track design, attack the hoop with dribble penetration.
That game plan fits perfectly for both Bonam and Daniels’ skill set. With their eyes wide with excitement the two guards combined for 48 points on an outstanding 80% shooting night. The Huskies were unable to stay in front of the duo all night, and when they tried to cheat and back down in the key to prevent the dribble drive, the two drained all five of their three point attempts.
Utah scored 60, that’s right, 60 of their 94 points in the paint.
With so many shots coming within feet of the rim, Utah was able to shoot the ball at a high percentage. For the fifth straight game Utah has shot the ball above the 54% mark. Against Washington, Utah made 58% of their field goal attempts. JoJo Zamora was the only Utah player who played over four minutes that did not make 50% or more of his shots. One reason why Utah was able to continually get to the hoop was due to the fact that they were shooting the ball so well from outside. In the first 20 minutes of play Utah shot 5-7 (71%) from beyond the arc. By games end the Utes made seven of 12 threes, good for 58%. For the entirety of the Washington road trip Utah would shoot 59% from the field and 51.7% from three point range.
Fultz Lives up to his Billing
There has been a lot of talk about Markelle Fultz being the best player in the country and possibly the number one pick in this year’s NBA draft. The talented freshman put on full display his many different talents. Fultz led all scorers with 30 points, and he scored in a multitude of ways. He made contested layups at the rim, tear drop floaters in the key and shot 57% from deep. He showed his ability to see the floor and anticipate where plays would happen before they took place. He finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one block. However, he also turned the ball over four times and gave the Utes four points due to his two goaltending penalties. In the end you can’t beat a solid team with just one player.
Three is Better than One
What’s better than having one play scoring thirty points? Having three players score over 20 points. As mentioned before Daniels rivaled best freshman on the floor status with 24 points, six rebounds and three assists of his own. Bonam likewise dominated with 24 points, six assists and two rebounds. The guard duo definitely countered any efforts by Fultz and then some. Joining in on the party was Kyle Kuzma who completed his fifth straight game with a double-double. This time the talented forward battled illness to finish with 22 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, one block and steal. Anytime you have a trio that combines to average 23 points and 9.6 rebounds with a 65% field goal average, you will be an extremely tough team to beat.
Room for Improvement
Once again, Utah left too many points at the free throw line. In a blow out game that is not that big of a deal, but in the future Utah needs to take advantage of the opportunity for extra points. Twice during Saturday’s game Washington went cold from the field and Utah was unable to extend its lead due to poor free throw shooting. The Utes shot 56% from the line, 2% worse than they did from beyond the arc. After the 9-16 performance Utah will need to spend time at the line so that this trend doesn’t continue against the Oregon Ducks.
Utah will welcome the 11th ranked Oregon Ducks to the Huntsman Center for a late night contest next Thursday. The Ducks come into Salt Lake undefeated in conference play, with a 18-2, 7-0 record. The game will tip of at 8:30 and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.