SALT LAKE CITY – Utah senior Gabe Bealer poured in a career-high 20 points and matched a career-high with seven rebounds to help lead the Utah Runnin’ Utes (2-0) to a 91-51 victory over the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (0-2) Monday night at the Huntsman Center.
“Gabe’s been shooting the ball very well and playing with a lot of confidence,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “He also made some improvements on the defensive end. He’s an easy guy to pull for, he’s quiet but he’s been grinding.”
For the second straight contest to open the season, Utah shot at least 50 percent from the field, which included shooting 44.8 percent on shots taken from downtown. Utah drained 13 three-pointers as a team and Bealer led the way with six three-pointers, which also marked a career-high for the senior.
Utah opened the contest with a 12-0 run and later capped off a 20-2 run with a three-pointer from Bealer. MVSU countered with a 14-4 run, but Utah again proceeded to go on another run, scoring the next 15 points and limiting the Delta Devils without a field goal for six minutes. MVSU hit a three-pointer at the 3:01 mark, but the Utes would take a comfortable 41-21 lead into halftime.
Bealer led all players at the break with 11 points, while Justin Bibbins and David Collette both chipped in with six points through the first period of play. Utah shot 45 percent from the floor, which included a 38 percent effort from downtown. The Utes were 10-of-11 (.910) from the free throw line in the first half. Meanwhile, MVSU shot 27 percent from the field, connecting on just 9-of-34 overall.
MVSU scored the first five points of the second half, but Bealer continued his hot streak and drained three consecutive three-pointers to push Utah’s lead to 53-27. The Utes would go onto hit four more three-pointers down the stretch, while limiting MVSU to just a 20 percent effort from the arc in the second half. Utah lead by as many as 45 points with 1:27 left to play before closing out the game with the 40-point victory.
“It was an improvement from the other night, but still we just get a little sloppy with our decisions and our passing,” Krystkowiak said. “Short of that, we had 10 guys play almost 20 minutes. We’re in a stretch where we play six games in 14 days, so it’s going to be a lot like an NBA schedule, and it was a night to get some guys some minutes that haven’t been playing a lot.”
Utah is back in action this Thursday, hosting SEC foe Missouri. Tip-off between the Runnin’ Utes and Tigers is set for 6 p.m. and the contest will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.
• Bealer set new career-highs in points (20), field goals made (7), three-point field goals made (6), while tying a career-high in rebounds (7).
• Bealer’s six three-pointers are the most by a Utah player in a game since Jordan Loveridge made six three-pointers against Southern Utah back on Nov. 13, 2015.
• Freshman Donnie Tillman scored his first points of his career on Monday, finishing up with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field and a 3-of-4 effort from the free throw line.
• Senior Tyler Rawson chipped in with 10 points, notching a double-digit scoring effort for the second straight game.
• Redshirt Freshman Chris Seeley scored eight points on the evening, while pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds.
• Utah’s 44.8 percent shooting from three-point range marked the highest effort from downtown since converting 45 percent against Stanford (03/04/17) last season.
• Utah’s 13 made three-pointers were the most since registering knocking down 13 from the arc at Colorado back on Feb. 7, 2015.
• The Utes shot 85.7 percent from the free throw line, converting 12-of-14 from the charity stripe.
• Utah is now 1-0 all-time against MVSU following the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Stats: Utah 91, MVSU 51
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