Utah blows out Boise State on night it honors the late Rick Majerus

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It’s fitting, really.

On the night that Utah honors their former coach — the late Rick Majerus, who spent many seasons in Salt Lake City and brought the Utes to the 1998 national title game — by placing one of his patented, cream-colored sweaters on the first seat on the bench, Larry Krystkowiak’s team put together their most impressive performance since … Majerus was actually on the Huntsman Center sideline?

Boise State was 6-1 on the season coming in, with a 13 point win at Creighton on their resume and their only loss coming by four at Michigan State, but found themselves down 27-8 in the blink of an eye. Utah would push that lead to as much as 26 points en route to a 76-55 win.

“We felt like coach Majerus was with us all night. He was right on the bench with us, smiling down,” senior center Jason Washburn said. “We talked about giving our best, and giving a complete performance. This was a Rick Majerus type of game. We hope that we made him proud.”

Utah finished the game shooting 68% from the floor as they won their sixth game of the season, matching last year’s win total just eight games in and picking up what is undoubtedly the biggest win of Krystkowiak’s tenure.

Boise State came in with a combination of hype and momentum, but they ran into a Utah buzzsaw that sent them back to Idaho with a heaping helping of humility.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.