SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah has turned the tables on the Pac-12.
During their first year in the league, the Utes struggled to score points and stay competitive against virtually every team they faced. These days, it’s the rest of the Pac-12 struggling to keep pace with Utah.
Colorado became the latest Pac-12 team to be overwhelmed. No. 9 Utah used stifling defense and efficient transition offense to run away from the Buffaloes for a 74-49 victory on Wednesday night.
“We got in the passing lanes,” senior point guard Delon Wright said. “We made smart decisions on offense.”
Brandon Taylor scored 14 points and Wright added 13 points, six assists and four steals to help Utah (13-2, 3-0 Pac-12) win its sixth straight. Dakarai Tucker added 11 off the bench for the Utes.
Utah blew the game open early after clamping down defensively on the Buffaloes. The Utes scored 41 points off turnovers or second-chance baskets.
That number didn’t sit well with Colorado coach Tad Boyle.
“You got to fight human nature in this business,” Boyle said. “Human nature is to get your head down. What we got to do is we got to strap it up and keep fighting. Not let that get our heads down. Not let that bother us. It’s easier said than done.”
Asika Booker and Jaron Hopkins each scored 12 points for Colorado (9-6, 2-1), which was held to its second lowest point total this season. The Buffaloes shot just 39.5 percent from the field (17-of-43).
Utah ran away from Colorado for good after halftime.
The Buffaloes cut the lead to eight at 33-25 on a jumper from Booker. Utah put the hammer down after that. Starting with a 3-pointer from Taylor, the Utes made eight consecutive baskets over four minutes and took a 54-31 lead with 12:55 left.
Utah led by as many as 35 points in the second half, going ahead 73-38 after Taylor made a pair of free throws to finish off a 14-1 run with 4:01 left.
Ten different players scored for Utah, which had five or more points from eight of those players.
“That’s what makes us special,” Taylor said. “We know how to share the ball. When you share the ball, it’s great. When we play as a team together, we know it’s not just one or two or three individuals.”
Booker and Hopkins each scored baskets on back-to-back possessions to help Colorado stake out a quick 12-8 lead in the first half. But the Buffaloes lost momentum after a prolonged dry spell on offense.
Utah took its first lead at 14-12 when Poeltl blocked Gordon Wesley’s jumper on one end and hit a layup on the other. The Utes really got cooking when Brekkott Chapman drilled a pair of 3-pointers to fuel a 15-0 run.
Brandon Taylor finished it off with a pair of free throws to give Utah a 29-15 lead with 2:14 left before halftime.
Strong defense helped Utah carve out a double-digit lead. The Utes held Colorado without a field goal for a 10:14 stretch in the first half and held the Buffaloes scoreless for more than 8
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