Utah Basketball Have Slow Start, Finish Strong In Lone Exhibition Game

Nov 1, 2023, 8:06 PM | Updated: 9:08 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Runnin’ Utes kicked off their 2023-24 efforts with an exhibition game against Westminster that they started slow, but finished strong in.

In his third season with the Utes, head coach Craig Smith has worked hard to continue improving Utah’s roster in hopes of returning the program to its former glory. It appears Smith has some pieces in place to take another step forward in the coming season.

Utah did start slow shooting, but eventually got things cooking toward midway of the first half and never looked back beating the Griffins 84- 61.

Runnin’ Utes Exhibition Game Stats Leaders

  • Scoring Leader: Cole Bajema – 18 points
  • Rebounds Leader: Ben Carlson – 9 boards
  • Assists Leader: Cole Bajema – 4 assists

Bajema was 5 of 6 from the field, 3 of 4 from the three, and a perfect 5 of 5 from the line. He added two rebounds, a team-leading four assists and one steal in 25 minutes of play.

Hunter Erickson added 16 points, Lawson Lovering 15 points and Branden Carlson 10 points rounded out the top point getters for the night.

Ben Carlson was good for seven points to go along with his team-leading nine rebounds in 18 minutes of play.

Noteworthy Team Stats

The team finished with 56% shooting from the paint, 50% shooting from the three, and 56% shooting from the line.

The Utes kept turnovers down to 10, while collecting 12 Griffin turnovers for nine points.

They finished the night with 36 total rebounds, six on offense, seven blocks, eight steals and 22 total assists.

What Craig Smith Had To Say About Utah’s First Outing

Utah head coach Craig Smith was very complimentary of Westminster, noting the slow start on offense from the Utes, but was generally pleased with the team’s first outing.

“I thought there was some of what you’d maybe expect- was hoping to play better but I think you have to credit them,” Smith said in post-game. “They just do some really funky things that you don’t see very often at our level and coach Norm Parish has been a very successful coach for a long time. We wish them the best for their season. I thought there was some really, really good and some not-so-good. I didn’t think we got off to a very good start offensively. We just had some sloppy turnovers and doing some things I hadn’t seen out of our guys in a closed scrimmage or against ourselves. That’s partly why you play these games.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Utah Basketball Have Slow Start, Finish Strong In Lone Exhibition Game