Utes beat Wildcats in foul fest
It was probably the most spectacular play of the game, Utah's Will Clyburn soaring high on the fast break to throw down a thunderous alley-oop dunk near the end of a 90-75 victory against the Weber State Wildcats on Saturday.
Then again, that's not saying a whole lot.
The Utes won their fifth straight game against the Wildcats at home only after enduring a drama-draining whistle festival that resulted in a combined 55 fouls and 75 free throws in addition to 36 turnovers. The 7,836 fans at Huntsman Center didn't so much see a basketball game as a disjointed series of sprints between stops at the foul line.
The Utes made 40 of their 45 foul shots the most since making a school-record 44 against Stanford in 1969 and a big reason they were able to bury the Wildcats despite committing 20 turnovers.
"I'm disappointed in our turnovers," Utah coach Jim Boylen said. "But we scored 90 points, turning the ball over 20 times. We have a chance."
The Utes won their third-straight game to start the season with their new-look lineup and up-tempo style, and Clyburn a transfer from Marshalltown Community College led them in scoring for the third-straight time.
The slender 6-foot-7 junior from Detroit started slowly, but he eventually scored 27 points and made 14 of his 15 free throws.
"Great players do that," Boylen said.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats could scarcely buy a basket, shooting just 36.7 percent a mark they reached only after making 11 of their final 17 shots once the Utes had taken a secure double-digit lead in the second half. That's when Weber State's Damian Lillard scored most of his game-high 28 points, too, after leading the Wildcats to victory against the Utes at home last season with the same total.
Impressively, the Wildcats made 26 of 30 free throws, but that hardly made up for their miserable aim from everywhere else on the floor.
Point guard Josh Watkins added 16 points and six assists (plus six turnovers) for the Utes, while forward Jay Watkins had 12 points and six rebounds. Clyburn led the team with nine boards suggesting Boylen has found the kind of player who can rejuvenate his program.
"It was just my teammates giving me the ball," Clyburn said, "and me staying aggressive and listening to the coaches. â¦ They kept coming to me, and I kept being aggressive."
The Wildcats fell to 1-2 as they prepare to play in the Great Alaska Shootout next week, while the Utes head into another rivalry game at Utah State on Wednesday feeling they're really onto something this season.
"The sky's the limit," Jay Watkins said. "We feel like we can be as good as we want to be and as good as we work to be. â¦ We have to be tough, have that grit, stay focused and not get complacent with success."
Utah 90, Weber State 75
R IN SHORT • The Utes beat Weber State for the fifth straight time at home, 90-75, at the Huntsman Center.
KEY STAT • The Utes make 40 free throws, the most since 1969.
KEY MOMENT • Utah's Shawn Glover buries a 3-pointer early in the second half to ignite a 14-4 run.