Utah falls in season hoops opener

Utah's season opener was not exactly what they expected. Southern Utah stunned the Utes 76-73 thanks to a standout performance by Steve Barnes.

Barnes scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out seven assists to lead the Thunderbirds. Nurudeen Adepoju added 16 points.

Utah led by as many as nine in the second half but could not hold the lead as the Thunderbirds used a 13-2 run to give Southern Utah the lead. The Utes came back and took the lead 73-72 on a pair of Chris Grant foul shots, but Barnes came back and nailed a jumper with less than 40 seconds left to ice the game.

The Utes actually trailed at the half but came out of the half time locker room with a 14-0 run thanks to six points by Johnnie Bryant during the scoring spurt.

Luke Nevill led the Utes with 19 points but missed free throws down the stretch that proved to be costly. Stephen Weigh and Bryant each added 13 points for Utah.

Shaun Green was the only other Ute in double figures with 11 points. He led Utah with six rebounds.

The Utes shot an impressive 56% from the field but Southern Utah countered with an outstanding 65.2% field goal percentage, and shot 60% from behind the arc.

It is just the second win for Southern Utah against the Utes in 10 tries.

QUOTES (courtesy of Utah Sports Information)

Utah Head Coach Ray Giacoletti
"This is not going to kill us. Southern Utah played very well and shot well. This game shows us what we need to get better at. We had runs, but just couldn't get over the hump. They shot well, it was impressive. They just got key buckets at opportune times."

"We went away from establishing (Luke) Nevill and got disrupted."

"Southern Utah's Barnes was amazing; he hit big shot after big shot."

"It seemed like just when we got the lead back, we hit droughts both offensively and defensively."

"The opportune buckets are the one's that will kill you and they seemed to find them."

"This is not going to hurt us, it's one game. We will get back to work tomorrow and focus on Santa Clara."

Utah Center Luke Nevill
"Some of their shots were uncontested. We need to work on that and get more pressure."

"We knew what we had to do, but just didn't do it. We lacked the intensity to do what we had to do tonight."

"They out rebounded us, and we just can't have that. We have aggressive guys and just didn't have the intensity tonight."

"I need to get more than just three rebounds, that's pretty bad."

Southern Utah Head Coach Bill Evans
"My guys played extremely hard, as did both teams. We shot the ball extremely well. When you shoot that percentage at 65 percent, it is kind of hard to overcome that. Coach Giacoletti does a tremendous job with his team, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. It is just one of the nights; when you play someone enough it is going to happen to you. And maybe tonight was just our night."

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