SALT LAKE CITY (AP)Timmy Allen had 19 first-half points, and 24 overall as Utah cruised past Central Arkansas for a 98-67 win Saturday afternoon.
The Utes (7-2) started strong, quickly grabbing a 23-11 lead by the 12:10 mark of the first half. Central Arkansas (1-8) closed that gap to 30-26 with eight minutes left in the half.
”I thought we were locked in and ready to play,” Bears coach Russ Pennell said. ”I liked what I saw the first half, especially the first ten minutes or so.”
Utah was ready to play as well, however, and they rode an 18-6 run to a 55-42 halftime lead over Central Arkansas. Bears guard Rylan Bergersen had 13 first-half points, but Central Arkansas turned the ball over too much for Bergersen’s efforts to keep the game close. Pennell pointed to his team’s 22 turnovers as a big reason for the Bears’ loss.
The second half started with the Utes down one player. Freshman Rylan Jones, who was integral in an overtime victory against in-state rival Brigham Young University on Wednesday night. Jones suffered a rib contusion in the first half and didn’t return, posting two points and an assist in nine minutes.
”He got a rib injury, he was smashed into pretty good,” Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said after the game. Krystkowiak said Jones’ status for next week’s game was uncertain, as the team hadn’t yet evaluated Jones.
The Utes didn’t let Jones’ absence affect their second-half play, however, and stormed out of the locker room on a 31-6 run. That gave Utah an 86-48 lead with 10:36 remaining. Allen continued stuffing the stat sheet in the final frame, but had plenty of help from his teammates in building the Utes’ big lead.
Alfonso Plummer pitched in 18 points, Booth Gach scored 13 with five assists and three rebounds. Allen added eight rebounds and five assists.
”Timmy’s doing a nice job leading us, sharing the ball at times, getting his teammates involved,” Krystkowiak said.
As a team, Utah shot 11 of 30 (36.7%) from behind the arc – 35 of 69 (50.7%) overall – and made 17 of 22 (77.3%) at the foul line.
For Central Arkansas, their offensive output stagnated for much of the second half. Bergersen finished with 21 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Eddy Kayouloud was the only other Bears player to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Utes continue their promising play ahead of a big-ticket matchup against No. 8-ranked Kentucky on December 18. With their only other game between now and then against Weber State, Utah has plenty of time to prepare for a potential upset.
Rylan Bergersen used to play for BYU. However, after former coach Dave Rose stepped down from coaching the Cougars, Bergersen transferred to Central Arkansas.
Central Arkansas: The Bears finish a long three-game road trip against Pepperdine, its only West Coast Conference opponent of the year.
Utah: Utah has a week off before playing in-state rival Weber State as part of the Beehive Classic.
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