Utah looks to start off the Sunshine Slam on a positive note when it hosts Bethune-Cookman in Salt Lake City on Monday.
The Utes and Wildcats open the two-site tournament with a regional campus game. They will travel to Daytona Beach, Florida later in the week, where Utah is scheduled to face Boston College on Saturday night and then will play either Rhode Island or Tulsa on Sunday. Bethune-Cookman is scheduled for a Saturday afternoon game against Bryant and a Sunday affair against either Holy Cross or Air Force.
The Utes (2-0) bring considerable momentum into Monday’s game. They beat Sacramento State 89-56 on Saturday night behind 21 points and two blocks from Branden Carlson. Utah finished with a 59-28 advantage on rebounds, the second straight game where the Utes had at least 50 total rebounds. They had a 55-29 advantage on the glass in their opener against Abilene Christian.
“Rebounding has been a huge emphasis,” Utes coach Craig Smith told the Deseret News. “At the end of the day, you are what you emphasize.”
Both Gach also made his season debut on Saturday and scored 11 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
Gach, a transfer from Minnesota, is returning to Utah for a second stint. He averaged 9.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists in two seasons with the Utes prior to transferring to the Golden Gophers. Gach received a waiver from the NCAA on Friday to play this season.
Bethune-Cookman may find it tough to keep up with the Utes after losing its first two games by an average of 20.5 points. The Wildcats (0-2) coughed up 20 turnovers in a 71-51 loss to Middle Tennessee on Friday and the Blue Raiders turned those miscues into 25 points on the other end.
After giving up a 15-1 run in the first half, Bethune-Cookman could not rally.
“I thought we really struggled getting into our sets in the first half,” Wildcats coach Reggie Theus told the team website. “Our effort in the second half was much better.”
Joe French has been a bright spot for Bethune-Cookman, averaging 16.0 points to start the season.
–Field Level Media