SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Utah didn’t earn any style points during Thursday’s win over Missouri, despite leading by 20 for most of the second half.
David Collette scored 17 and Utah beat Missouri 77-59 in a choppy ballgame in which neither team played particularly well on the offensive end.
The Utes (3-0) got their best win of the season after victories over a pair of SWAC teams to begin the campaign.
“We both had the same thing going on,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “We had an awful lot of great looks (early). It wasn’t pretty. We were missing open looks. They were missing open looks.
“What really broke the game open was we started making some shots and they continued to struggle a little bit.”
Utah led from start to finish, including 35-19 at halftime after a horrendous offensive performance by the Tigers (2-1). The home team played strong defensively, mixing in some zone, taking away the paint and contesting everything. Missouri started the game 2 for 17 and didn’t hit its first 3-pointer until 2:06 remained in the half. Mizzou shot just 20.0 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes and was 1 for 13 from behind the arc.
The 59 points were a season low.
“It was really weird,” said Utah forward Tyler Rawson, who finished with 12 points. “We were able to keep our defensive intensity and even though shots weren’t going in, coach was pleased with how we were keeping our defensive intensity.
“Sometimes when shots aren’t falling, it affects our other end of the floor. We did a good job sticking to our defense.”
A pair of back-to-back triples from Justin Bibbins and Gabe Bealer gave the Utes a 23-point lead early in the second half and the Tigers never got closer than 18 afterward, and that was on the final basket. Freshman Donnie Tillman added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“There’s no excuse,” Missouri guard Kassius Robertson said. “We were in the game even though we weren’t shooting the ball. It wasn’t about shooting the ball.
“We needed that. We got kicked in our mouth and we needed it. We didn’t respond well at all. Tonight’s defense was absolutely horrible.”
Mizzou was without star freshman Michael Porter, Jr., who suffered a leg injury in the first game of the season. The preseason All-American was one of the top recruits coming out of high school and is expected to be a high NBA draft pick in June.
Robertson led Missouri with 12 points.
“That’s one of the biggest things we talked about,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said about their 1 for 15 start. “When we’re on offense, move the ball and don’t settle for threes. Because in this place, it seems as if you’re open, all of a sudden you don’t have your legs under you and you miss three straight and then it spirals from there.”
The Utes next head to Las Vegas to face Ole Miss Monday night.