Eugene, Ore. • The Utes welcomed back seniors David Collette and Gabe Bealer to the starting lineup on Friday night in the Pac-12 Conference opener at Oregon.
Collette, the team’s leading scorer (13.5 ppg), and Bealer, who came into the night shooting 48.8 percent from behind the 3-point line, missed the team’s final nonconference game against Northwestern State on Dec. 20. Collette missed the game due to an abdominal strain while Bealer sat out with a hyperextended knee.
Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak said on Wednesday that both had limited participation in practice this week.
Collette scored four first-half points on 2-for-5 shooting. After missing his first two field goal attempts, he drove in for a dunk with 16:32 remaining in the half for his first points of the game.
Freshman forwards Donnie Tillman (sprained foot) and Chris Seeley (gallbladder surgery) remain out. Tillman averaged 10.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game through is first nine games as a Ute.
Oregon redshirt junior forward Paul White did not dress for Friday’s game. He suffered a concussion in the team’s previous game and did not get cleared in time to play against the Utes. White has averaged 11.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game this season.
Freshman Kenny Wooten, a 6-foot-9 shot blocker from California, started in White’s place. Wooten came into the night ranked first in the conference in and ninth in NCAA Division I with an average of 3.2 blocked shots per game. Through 13 games, Wooten’s 41 blocks already put him in a tie for eighth place on the program’s single-season leaderboard.
The Utes came into Friday’s conference opener with a history of rough outings in conference openers since joining the Pac-12, particularly on the road. They’d gone 0-3 in road conference road openers since joining the league in 2011. They came into the night having gone 2-4 all-time in Pac-12 openers after a win in last season’s opener against Colorado in the Huntsman Center.
The Utes lost a Pac-12 opener in Eugene to the Ducks 70-68 in overtime on Jan. 2, 2014.