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'Let's make a statement': No. 25 Utah rolls to 124-78 win over No. 16 Oklahoma

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SALT LAKE CITY β€” Lynne Roberts had a message for her team: "Let's make a statement."

It's safe to say her team got the message.

Unlike last season when Utah controlled an 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter and lost by 7 points, No. 25 Utah lead wire-to-wire in a purely dominant fashion against No. 16 Oklahoma on Wednesday night.

Sophomore Gianna Kneepkens scored a game-high 24 points and Kennady McQueen added 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Utes to a 124-78 win over the Sooners at the Huntsman Center.

"Last year we played not to lose, because we had a big lead β€” we played it safe, I called it safe β€” and then they just kind of got on a run," Roberts said. "And so (tonight) I said let's play till midnight, let's let them kick us out of here β€” don't even look at the scoreboard, just keep doing what we're doing."

Her team didn't need to play until midnight to convince the college basketball world that it had arrived against an undefeated Sooners team. It was a dominant game from the home team from start to finish en route to a program-tying record for most points scored in a game β€” the last time was in 1979 when Utah scored 124 against Northern Arizona.

But against a ranked Oklahoma (3-1) team was another story.

"What a game. I'm so incredibly proud of our team, the way we played for 40 minutes," Roberts said. "Oklahoma's a really good team. I have so much respect for their program and Jennie (Baranczyk), their head coach is a phenomenal coach and human being."

The Utes outrebounded Oklahoma 51-31, held the Sooners to only six offensive rebounds, and recorded 25 points off second-chance opportunities. It was a physical Utah (4-0) team that aggressively pursued after Oklahoma at every chance of the game.

Utah jumped out to a hot start and controlled an 11-3 lead early in the game behind McQueen's scoring and a physically imposing Utes team that smothered the Sooners on every position. Oklahoma (3-1) tried multiple times to break Utah's defense but was frustrated at the rim multiple times as the home team continued to build up lead.

Save for a brief 7-0 run late by Oklahoma in the first quarter to cut Utah's lead to 4 points, it was all Utah from start to finish. And the longer the game went on, the bigger the deficit became for the Sooners.

Utah built up a 15-point lead by halftime and appeared ready to pull away from an Oklahoma team on the second half of a back-to-back road trip to Utah β€” the Sooners beat BYU 77-66 on Tuesday. But what happened in the third quarter was a bit of a surprise, even to Roberts.

"I thought we could win β€” we were competing to win β€” but I don't know that we saw this coming," Roberts said. "But, man, I think we earned it. Our tenacity on defense. We talked about to beat Oklahoma we had to take care of the ball and we had to rebound β€” give ourselves as many chances to score as possible."

For good measure, Utah outscored Oklahoma 41-20 in the third quarter, built up a 38-point lead, and had 95 points going into the final period β€” good for an otherworldly 1.442 points per possession for the Utes. It was enough to ensure the Sooners couldn't make a fourth quarter comeback like last season.

In the fourth quarter, the scoring continued and Utah built up a game-high 49-point lead.

"I think just knowing what happened last year at their place, it's kind of just a chip on your shoulder," McQueen said. "I wasn't able to play in the game last year, so I was just super excited to be given the chance to play with my teammates against Oklahoma. And just from the start, we said pedal to the metal. And so I just tried my best every play to β€” whatever that looked like, depending on the play β€” I tried to make sure we did that."

"It's the progression we want to make," Roberts added. 'We want every year to be a little bit better; I'm proud of that. When we kind of had the game in hand we were talking about, like, 'Let's just keep going; let's make a statement."

Utah sent a message loud and clear.

"When I took this program over, my goal was to make Utah basketball nationally relevant, and it's validating to see that starting to happen," Roberts said. "But it's not because of me, it's because of our players. We've got talented kids that have bought in and they're doing everything the right way.

"Oklahoma's really good, and so we just beat a really good team, handily. I couldn't be more proud of the players; they completely bought into what we're trying to do. If we can continue with that mindset that they have, then, shoot, I'll ride with these guys any day."

Utah will travel to the Bahamas as part of the Baha Mar Hoops tournament next week, where they'll play Alabama and Ole Miss.


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Josh is the Sports Director for and beat writer of University of Utah athletics β€” primarily football, men’s basketball and gymnastics. He is also an Associated Press Top 25 voter for college football.


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