Utes get breather in clash with Fighting Saints

Dec 30, 2014 - 3:35 PM Salt Lake City, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - The 10th-ranked Utah Runnin' Utes take a break from grind of Division I play on Tuesday as they entertain the Fighting Saints of Carroll (MT) in non-conference play at the Huntsman Center.

This is the second of five straight home games for the Utes, having already defeated South Dakota in Salt Lake City this time last week by a score of 80-66. The program is a perfect 7-0 at home, with the two defeats on the schedule coming at San Diego State (53-49) and Kansas (63-60), both of which were ranked in the top-20 at the time.

As for the Fighting Saints, a team which competes at the NAIA level, they've already gone to battle against three other D-I programs (Purdue, South Alabama and Montana), and each of those outings was met with a sizeable defeat. The most recent game for Carroll was against Thompson Rivers back on Dec. 19, an outing that resulted in a 64-55 loss.

In terms of an all-time series between these two programs, this is the first- ever meeting.

Against Thompson Rivers, the Saints fell behind by a point at the break and then failed to keep up in the second half, en route to the nine-point road loss 11 days ago. Jake Hollifield registered a double-double for the program with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Zach Taylor and Ryan Imhoff accounted for 15 and 14 points, respectively, the latter shooting only 6-of-18 from the field and 2-of-10 behind the 3-point line.

For a squad that is producing 72.1 ppg, shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 33.9 percent beyond the arc, Taylor is the top offensive threat with his 18.9 ppg. An 86.2 percent shooter at the free-throw line, Taylor is also first on the unit with 38 assists and 25 steals, placing second on the glass with 4.4 rpg as well. Oliver Carr, held to only five points the last time out, is the other double-digit scorer for the Saints with 15.8 ppg.

North Dakota State hung around for the first few minutes of the meeting with the Utes, but by the time the intermission rolled around, Utah was ahead by 17 points and never looked back. The hosts shot just under 52 percent from the floor in the meeting, helping them to overcome 8-of-23 shooting behind the 3- point line. Brekkott Chapman came off the bench to register 22 points on 9- of-13 shooting, followed by Delon Wright with 17 points, a game-high 10 assists and six rebounds, while Dakari Tucker pitched in 11 points.

Not only is Wright the leading scorer for the Utes with his 16.4 ppg, shooting an impressive 57.7 percent from the floor, he is also first on the unit with 57 assists and 24 steals. In addition, Wright is also second on the glass with 5.2 rpg, the bulk of which have come at the defensive end of the floor, and has 11 blocked shots. Jakob Poeltl is the other active double-digit scorer for the program with 10.5 ppg, accounting for a team-best 8.6 rpg and 28 rejections as the squad clamps down on defense by limiting foes to 57.6 ppg based on 36.4 percent shooting from the floor.

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