Utah Basketball Starts Craig Smith Era With Dominating Win Over ACU

Nov 9, 2021, 8:19 PM
David Jenkins - Utah Utes vs. Abilene Christian...
Utah Utes guard David Jenkins Jr. (1) passes as Abilene Christian Wildcats guard Tobias Cameron (11) hits the boards at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Craig Smith era at the University of Utah officially started after the Runnin’ Utes picked up a 70-56 win in their season opener over Abilene Christian.

The Wildcats were no slouch coming into this game, returning most of their team that pulled off an upset over Texas in the NCAA Tournament. They also led the country in steals and turnover margin in 2020-21.

That didn’t impact the Utes too much as David Jenkins Jr. led the Utes with 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-for-9 from the three-point line. Branden Carlson added 14 points and nine rebounds.

David Jenkins, Rollie Worster Lead Utes In First Half

Utah came out of the gates and did exactly what they struggled with during the 2020-21 season. Rebounding. Abilene Christian brought out a smaller lineup which allowed the Runnin’ Utes to attack the boards.

Utah outrebounded the Wildcats 27-15 in the first half. Marco Anthony collected seven rebounds in the first half. Both Battin and Dusan Mahorcic had five boards each in the first 20 minutes.

The three-ball was falling for two players in the opening half of play. Jenkins knocked down three of his five attempts from deep and Worster went 2-for-4 from deep.

The Utes had a 34-27 halftime lead. Jenkins led the way with 11 points, while Worster added 10 points.

Utah Claims Second Half With Strong Defensive Performance

Utah kicked it up a notch on both ends of the floor but was very impressive on the defensive end. With five minutes remaining, the Runnin’ Utes held Abilene Christian to just 6-of-18 shooting from the field.

The Utes ended up outscoring the Wildcats 36-29 in the second half to cruise to the win.

Utah improved their record to 1-0 on the season. They will return to the Jon M. Huntsman Center to face Sacramento State on Saturday, November 13 at 7:30 p.m. MT on Pac-12 Mountain.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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