SALT LAKE CITY — Utah didn’t do a lot of trailing in its sweep of USC and UCLA.

The Utes, in fact, only played from behind for a grand total of two minutes and 41 seconds over the two games. They built big leads against both the Trojans (16 points) and Bruins (27 points).

It’s an obvious pattern Utah hopes to carry into this week’s Pac-12 Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Utes (17-13, 11-7) used it to secure the No. 3 seed. They’ll face either Oregon (19-12, 10-8) or Washington State (11-20, 4-14) in the quarterfinals on Thursday (9:30 p.m., ESPN).

Finishing third — when picked eighth in the conference’s preseason poll — showed a coming of age for a squad that started three true freshmen (Timmy Allen, Riley Battin and Both Gach) for much of the season.

“If we go in there and lay an egg the first game it means nothing. I think we’ve learned that we can’t start a game slow, any game.”

Utah guard Sedrick Barefield

There were ups and downs, as well as points in between.

Now that it’s tournament time, senior guard Sedrick Barefield noted that “there’s no more lessons to be learned.”

The battle for a first-round bye isn’t lost on the Utes.

“If we go in there and lay an egg the first game it means nothing,” Barefield said. “I think we’ve learned that we can’t start a game slow, any game. If we just continue to approach every game like it’s, you know, do or die, then we have success.”

The key, he continued, is to just come out strong.

Such was the case on Senior Night when Utah jumped out to a 51-24 advantage in the first half. The Utes hit 11 3-pointers before the break and tied a school-record 17 by game’s end.

Barefield scored a game-high 29 …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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