Britton Johnsen led the Utes with 14 points, 11 rebounds in the team's 61-47 win.
Nov 22, 2002
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Britton Johnsen scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Utah overcame a slow start to beat Southern Utah 61-47 Friday night in both teams' season opener.
Tim Frost, a transfer from Portland, added 13 points and Nick Jacobson had 11 for the Utes, who are 13-1 in opening games under coach Rick Majerus. The last opener the Utes dropped was 79-68 to Kansas in 1995.
Johnsen's steal and breakaway dunk highlighted a 12-0 run early in the second half that broke open a tight contest. Walk-on guard John Hille's 3 pointer capped the surge for a 35-21 lead, as the Utes held the Thunderbirds scoreless for almost eight minutes.
The T-Birds, who were led by Jay Collins' 10 points, couldn't get within 11 points the rest of the game. Robbie Warren, David Palmer and Al Williams each added eight points, but SUU shot 34 percent from the field.
Utah's defensive domination showed on one T-Bird possession in the second half when the Utes blocked three straight shots within a 10 second span. Utah's nine blocks were as many as it had in any game last season, when they went 21-9 and lost to Indiana in the NCAA Tournament.
Returning just four players from last season, the Utes struggled to find consistency on offense as they started 1-of-8 from the field and trailed most of the first half. The Utes finally took the lead for good when Frost scored consecutive baskets to end the period. Utah led 23-19 at halftime despite shooting 32 percent, including 3-of-17 from 3-point range.
The Utes improved to 5-1 against the Thunderbirds, with the one loss coming
in the 2000-01 season - when Majerus was on a leave of absence. Utah now leaves
to play Gonzaga in Maui Invitational which begins on Monday.