SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – After winning its first two games of the season by an average of 35 points, the Utes men’s basketball team played a tighter contest against Idaho State Monday night, but still came away with the victory.

Branden Carlson scored a career-high 26 points, pulled down nine rebounds and blocked four shots in a 70-58 victory over the Bengals at the Huntsman Center, as the Utes improved to 3-0.

The Utes’ 7-foot center converted 9 of 18 shots from the field, hit 1 of 4 from distance, was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line and blocked four shots.

Utah took a 38-31 lead at intermission and quickly pushed the lead into double digits to open the second half. But the Bengals rallied. Austin Smellie drilled a 3 with 9:39 left to pull Idaho State within one, 53-52.

But Utah went on a 17-4 run, as the Bengals did not score again until former BYU center Kolby Lee scored at the basket to make it 59-54 with 5:39 left. Brandon Carlson turned a three-point play and scored at the basket down the stretch to help the Utes seal the victory.

Utah held a decided advantage on the boards, out-rebounding the Bengals 44-29 while dishing out 13 assists on 24 made baskets.

Gabe Madsen and Luka Tarlac each added eight points for the Utes, who shot 45.8 percent from the field.

Lee finished with 15 points to lead Idaho State (1-2). Brock Mackenzie and Miguel Tomley added 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Utah continues its homestand by hosting Sam Houston on Thursday.

Mike Saunders Jr. chipped in with nine points and four rebounds off the bench while Luka Tarlac had eight points on 4-of-4 shooting with four boards and a steal in his collegiate debut.