SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – In the Runnin’ Utes first real test of the season, they got thoroughly outplayed by undefeated Butler.
Kelan Martin scored 18 points as No. 18 Butler improved to 7-0 with a 68-59 victory over Utah on Monday night at the Huntsman Center. The loss was the first of the season for the Utes.
Butler controlled the game from the opening tip and trailed just once at 20-19. The Bulldogs responded to that with a 14-3 run to take a 10-point lead.
A 13-4 run early in the second half, highlighted by a deep 3-pointer from Tyler Lewis, put Utah away. Butler did what it’s done all season — shoot well from the field, play stingy defense and limit turnovers. The Bulldogs shot 52.8 percent and held the Utes to 36.5 percent. Utah committed 18 turnovers in the game.
”I don’t think I’ve been involved with a college basketball game where the other team scored 23 points off our turnovers,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak. “It’s damn near impossible to do. You can’t defend turnovers and we basically turned it over to the point where they scored right away.”
Kyle Kuzma led Utah (4-1) with 21 points and 10 rebounds while Lorenzo Bonam finished with 17 points.
Tyler Wideman chipped in 15 points for Butler, which moved into the Top 25 earlier Monday.
Butler took a 33-27 lead into halftime after a clunky first half in which both teams struggled in its own way. The Bulldogs were efficient from the field, shooting 56.0 percent, and played stout defense. That defense, however, fouled so often Utah was able to remain in the game.
The Utes missed open shots, layups and turned over the ball repeatedly. They shot just 30.8 percent in the first half, including 2 for 13 from behind the arc, but outrebounded the Bulldogs by nine and hit eight more free throws. That balanced the 10 turnovers and the 17 points Butler scored off them.
”This was the first test for us, really, if you look at our schedule,” said Krystkowiak. “The timing was about right after a handful of games and we didn’t do a good job with the test. But we can’t learn unless we’re put in a position where there’s a little adversity.”
Utah returns to the home court Thursday night against Montana State.