LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Andrew Bogut was struggling, so Utah found
another way to win.
Bryant Markson scored 19 points and the 15th-ranked Utes
overcame an off night by Bogut to beat UNLV 57-53 on Monday and
extend their winning streak to 15 games.
Bogut, the 7-foot center who is a likely NBA lottery pick, was
frustrated by UNLV's interior defense. But Markson scored 12 points
in the second half to help Utah escape with a win.
"This was a wake-up call," Bogut said. "Everybody will be
trying to get us now that we're a ranked team."
UNLV tried its best to do just that, pulling within a point with
less than a minute left. But Utah made crucial free throws in the
final seconds to remain unbeaten in the Mountain West Conference
and justify its highest ranking of the season.
Bogut couldn't find his shot in the first half and didn't pull
down a rebound. But he still managed to finish with 14 points, six
below his average. The sophomore from Australia was limited to four
rebounds against an undersized UNLV team.
Markson scored seven points in a row in the second half to give
Utah its biggest lead, 45-34, with 12:20 left. But the Utes made
only two field goals in the last 11 minutes and UNLV rallied in
front of a raucous home crowd.
"I just think this is the next step for us, to see how we
perform with some adversity," Utah coach Ray Giacoletti said. "We
found out what our true colors were. Anytime in college basketball
when you get a win on the road you can't forget how precious that
is no matter who, what or where."
The Utes (20-3, 8-0) only led by one with under a minute to play
but closed the game by connecting on four of six foul shots.
The Rebels (9-11, 2-6) mounted a spirited comeback late in the
second half, going on an 11-2 run that was capped by Louis
Amundson's dunk to cut the deficit to 52-48 with 4:07 to play.
Michael Umeh then converted a three-point play off a turnover
with 2:15 remaining to trim the margin to one, but Utah hung on
"We are not satisfied with the feeling of losing, but we
enjoyed the atmosphere of a true college basketball game," UNLV
coach Lon Kruger said. "It was kind of exciting."
The Utes used a run of their own to open a double-digit lead in
the first eight minutes of the second half. The offensive outburst
was highlighted by nine points from Markson, including a 3-pointer
to give them a 45-34 lead.
Odartey Blankson led UNLV with 18 points, and Amundson had 12.
UNLV found itself in a hole after going scoreless for almost
four minutes late in the first half. UNLV had trouble going inside
against the taller Utes.
But Utah couldn't take advantage of UNLV's poor shooting. Bogut
scored only eight points.
Blankson had 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half.
Jerel Blassingame added a trio of 3-pointers to help the Rebels
stay with the Utes.