RENO, Nev. (ABC4 Sports) – What a start to the season for a young, inexperienced Utah basketball team.
In front of a raucous crowd of 8,324 inside the Lawlor Events Center, sophomores Timmy Allen and Both Gach shined down the stretch with 23 points and 22 points, respectively, Tuesday night to lead the University of Utah men’s basketball team to a season-opening 79-74 victory at Nevada.
With the win, the Utes (1-0) are now 84-27 overall in season-openers and 9-0 under the direction of head coach Larry Krystkowiak. The win also snapped Nevada’s 18-game home winning-streak, which was the fifth-highest active streak heading into the season-opener. Allen notched his second-career double-double with 11 rebounds to go with his team-high 23 points.
The 2019-20 season got underway Tuesday night with Allen scoring early for Utah just 12 seconds in. After Nevada (0-1) went up 9-4 on the second-straight 3-pointer from Lindsay Drew, an 8-0 run by the Utes was capped off by Gach hitting 1-of-2 from the line to go up 12-9 out of the first media break.
In a half that was full of runs, the U took full advantage each time answering any sort of offense from the Wolfpack. A great pass from Rylan Jones to Brandon Carlson for the one-handed jam followed by the 3-ball from Riley Battin gave Utah the 27-19 edge with 7:49 left in the half.
After the Wolfpack tied things up at 30-30 with 3:44 left to in the first, a 7-2 run ensued for the Utes that finished with a turnaround dunk from Carlson gave the U a 37-32 lead heading into the locker room.
Lahat Thiuone continued the momentum for Utah at the under-16 media break with a huge block that lead to an easy basket for Gach and the 49-43 lead, forcing Nevada to call a timeout with 14:42 left to play.
A 7-0 run by the Wolfpack tied things up at 56-56 with 9:18 left to play before Jazz Johnson gave Nevada its first lead of the game, 58-56, since the 14:10 mark in the first half, 13-12.
Gach finally put an end to the 9-0 run by Nevada and tied things up at 58-58 with 7:16 remaining. Out of the media timeout (6:50) shortly after, Gach came through for the Utes with a huge 3-pointer for the 61-58 advantage.
Allen and Gach showed their leadership and poise late in the game, accounting for 12 of Utah’s 16 points in the final 5:36 minutes of the game for the 79-74 win Tuesday night.
“As a freshman, we had a lot of big, packed road opponents…,” Allen said postgame. “I don’t think I was ready for that. So, with this group, coming back as a sophomore and a leader, I just want to stress that to my guys in practice that every game is going to be that intense. People say we are young. We think we are experienced beyond our age. We’re a poised young group. We can build on that.”
Battin added nine points and six boards of his own while Jones finished the night with nine points, five boards and five assists in his first-career game as a Ute. Carlson made his Ute debut with eight points and nine rebounds on 2-of-3 shooting and a perfect 4-of-4 night at the line.
The Utes next host Mississippi Valley State Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.