SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Craig Smith is trying to re-establish a winning culture at Utah, and judging by his team’s season opening performance against Long Island, the Runnin’ Utes may be on their way.
Branden Carlson scored 21 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked three shots, as Utah blew past the Sharks at the Huntsman Center, 89-48.
Gabe Madsen added 13 points and Rollie Worster scored 11 points, while dishing out five assists for Utah.
Highly touted freshman Wilguens Exacte Jr. scored 12 points off the bench.
Lazar Stefanovic’s 3-pointer with 11:09 left in the first half put the Utes up 20-9 before extending the margin to 27-11 when Exacte Jr. made a 3 almost four minutes later.
Long Island fought back and used a 13-2 spurt to get within 29-24 when C.J. Delancy made a layup with 3:52 before intermission. But the Utes countered with a 13-4 outburst to close the half and were never threatened again.
The Utes took a 42-28 lead into the half, and blew the game wide open in the second half by outscoring Long Island, 47-20.
The Utes started the second half with a 12-0 run and extended its lead to 54-28. That lead would only get larger as Utah held Long Island to just 20 second-half points. With the Runnin’ Utes breaking the 40-point barrier, head coach Craig Smith unloaded bench and played all 14 available players.
Utah’s defense held Long Island to just 32 percent shooting, and the Utes out-rebounded the Sharks, 53-34.
Ben Carlson didn’t score, but pulled down 11 rebounds. Former Wasatch Academy star and Cincinnati transfer Mike Saunders added 11 points off the bench.
Utah (1-0) next hosts Cal State Bakersfield Friday night at the Huntsman Center at 5:00 p.m.